Qatar World Cup in danger of being shown a red card

A handout computer generated image made available on August 24, 2017 by Qatar World Cup's Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, responsible for organising the global football tournament, shows the 40,000-seater Al-Thumama Stadium after the committee released the design of the sixth stadium to host matches during the football World Cup in 2022. (AFP)
Updated 07 October 2017
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Qatar World Cup in danger of being shown a red card

LONDON: The Qatar World Cup could be moved to another country due to “political risks,” according to a report looking into the problems surrounding the tournament.
The study by management consultants Cornerstone Global, obtained by the BBC, evaluated the impact of the current rift between Qatar and the Anti-Terror Quartet.
It concluded that there are many reasons — ranging from allegations of corruption, to the current regional political crisis, to the possible knock-on effects of that to infrastructure projects — to predict that the event will not take place in the country.
The report, titled “Qatar in focus: Is the FIFA World Cup 2022 in danger?” claims that “tournament insiders and regional experts have both stated to us that it is far from certain Doha will actually host the tournament” and that “Western diplomats have privately stated they do not know whether or not the tournament will take place as planned.”
It also highlighted corruption allegations — both in the bidding process and in the infrastructure development.
But while the charge of corruption has been leveled at the Qatar bid since it was awarded the hosting rights to the 2022 tournament, the report makes plain that the current political crisis in the Gulf is what could ultimately see the tournament shown the red card.
“Qatar is under greater pressure regarding its hosting of the tournament ... the current political crisis has seen – or at least raised the possibility of – a Qatari opposition movement emerging,” the report states.
“This means an increased risk for those working on, or seeking contracts for World Cup 2022 infrastructure.”
“Any cancelation of Qatar hosting the World Cup 2022 will likely be abrupt and will leave contractors involved in a precarious situation that may not be easily resolved.”
The report also states that costs have risen between “20 and 25 percent due to logistical reasons.”
Cornerstone also said: “Sources within the project have indicated that several members of the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee have threatened to resign over excessive interference by senior officials on spending and allegations of corruption.”
The Qatari response to the allegations in the report was swift, insisting there was no chance the tournament would not go ahead as planned and questioning the motives behind the study.
In a statement to the BBC, Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy said: “There is absolutely no risk to the future of the first World Cup in the Middle East.”
The body went on to claim that there has been “no impact on preparations as a result of the ongoing and illegal blockade against Qatar,” and questioned the motives of the report.
“The intention to create doubt regarding the tournament, while attempting to cause resentment among Qatari citizens and anxiety among foreign businesses and residents, is as transparent as it is laughable.
“Despite the ambitious title of this report, there is absolutely no risk to the future of the first World Cup in the Middle East.”


New evidence of Qatar’s $1 billion ransom that funds terror

In this April 21, 2017 file photo, the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Al-Thani, second left in front row, welcomes released kidnapped members of Qatar’s ruling family at the Doha airport, Qatar. (AP)
Updated 18 July 2018
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New evidence of Qatar’s $1 billion ransom that funds terror

  • 28 Qataris were taken hostage on Dec 16, 2015, while hunting with falcons in southern Iraq, having ignored all warnings about not traveling to the area
  • Qatar paid the biggest ransom in history: $1 billion plus $125 million in “side payments” to terrorist groups such as the Al-Nusra and Kataib Hezbollah

LONDON: Damning new evidence has emerged to suggest that a $1 billion ransom paid by Qatar for the release of 28 Qataris kidnapped in Iraq has been used to fund terror. 

Text messages and voicemails obtained by the BBC reveal communications between Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Qatar’s newly appointed foreign minister, and Zayed Al-Khayareen, its ambassador to Iraq, as talks to release the hostages dragged on for 16 months. 

In the end Qatar paid the biggest ransom in history: $1 billion plus $125 million in “side payments,” all paid to groups such as Al Nusra Front, the Al-Qaeda affiliate now known as Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, and the Iran-backed Iraqi Shiite paramilitary group Kataib Hezbollah. 

The ransom payment was a key factor in driving the Anti-Terror Quartet — Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt — to close borders and sever diplomatic ties with Qatar.

The 28 Qataris were taken hostage on Dec 16, 2015, while hunting with falcons in southern Iraq, having ignored all warnings about not traveling to the area. The party included members of the ruling family.

The kidnappers were identified as members of Kataib Hezbollah but nothing was heard from them until three months later, when they offered to release three hostages in return for “a gesture of goodwill”  — money. 

Ambassador Al-Khayareen wrote in a text to the foreign minister: “This is a good sign for us, which indicates that they are in a hurry and want to end everything soon.”

As the months passed, however, the kidnappers kept upping their demands. As well as money they wanted Qatar to leave the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthis in Yemen, and demanded the release of Iranian soldiers held in Syria.

One Kataib Hezbollah negotiator, Abu Mohammed, wanted $10 million for himself. “All of them are thieves,” the ambassador wrote to the minister.

Two Iraqi mediators recruited by the ambassador asked in advance for $150,000 in cash and five Rolex watches when they visited Sheikh Mohammed. Who the “gifts” were for was not clear. Qatari officials admit the texts and voicemails are genuine but say they have been edited in a misleading fashion.