How Qatar is molding Americans’ opinion in favor of extremism

Most of Qatar’s funds are channeled through the Qatar Foundation, criticized for its ties to extremist Islamic ideologies and activists, and for giving hate speech a platform in Doha’s Education City Mosque. (Shutterstock)
Updated 16 July 2019

How Qatar is molding Americans’ opinion in favor of extremism

  • Universities, media outlets, activist groups and think tanks are key instruments of Qatar's insidious foreign influence
  • Investments in US elite institutions are helping Qatar deflect media attention away from its extremist agenda

CHICAGO: Qatar is investing billions of dollars in American universities, cash-hungry lobbyists in Washington, DC, journalists, mainstream activist groups and policy think tanks in an apparent drive to soften criticism of its activities that researchers focused on terrorism say fuels violent extremism.

The researchers argue that these concerns should have led the discussion that President Donald Trump held with Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani on July 9 at the White House. Though in the past Trump has criticized Qatar over its support for terrorism, this meeting focused only on economic issues.

Journalist and activist Mike Cernovich, who was involved in exposing the sexual harassment allegations that forced Congressman John Conyers to resign and opened the seat to Palestinian activist Rashida Tlaib in Michigan’s 13th District, released a documentary in March titled “Blood Money: How Qatar Bought off the D.C. Media Establishment” to argue the case for greater scrutiny of Qatar’s activities.

Cernovich has come under attack from liberal writers, including some secretly funded by Qatar’s foreign allies. But Cernovich’s documentary raises serious concerns about how Doha has spread its influence deep into critical US establishments to shape Americans' perception of Qatar, playing down its dubious associations and extremist agenda.

Most of Qatar’s funds are being channeled through Qatar Foundation, which has been criticized for its ties to extremist Islamic ideologies and activists, and for giving hate speech a platform in Doha’s Education City Mosque.

David Reaboi, a national-security consultant based in Washington, DC, has ridiculed Qatar’s attempts to claim a neutral stance when it comes to the Muslim Brotherhood.

CAMPUS CONNECTION

  • Qatar Foundation International, NYC
  • Brookings Doha Center, Doha
  • Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, Doha
  • Carnegie Mellon University, Doha
  • Northwestern University, Doha
  • Texas A&M University, Doha
  • Virginia Commonwealth University, Doha
  • Weill Cornell Medical College, Doha

“The Brotherhood has found a home in Qatar and, today, they are supporting (and also counting on the support of) every Islamist group and activist in the world.” Reaboi said.

“For them to distance themselves from the Brotherhood in public might be good public relations, but it’s like asking Egypt to distance itself from the pyramids in Giza.”

Among those demanding accountability and transparency in Qatar’s lobbying activities in America is the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), a US think tank. Varsha Koduvayur, an FDD senior researcher, has called on Trump to act, arguing that Qatar’s emir must “come clean” about its funding of American universities.

“President Trump should tell the emir that America welcomes genuine investments in our education system, but not influence peddling. Trump should explicitly note to the emir that his administration will not tolerate Qatar Foundation’s bad-faith efforts to circumvent federal disclosure rules,” Koduvayur said.

According to Koduvayur, Qatar is not only “meddling” in major universities but also targeting teachers at elementary and high schools (K12), impacting young people and teenagers under the age of 18.

Reaboi, who is interviewed extensively in Cernovich’s “Blood Money,” argued that Qatar’s actions are “detrimental to America’s national interests.”

“When our friends in the Muslim world realized that they were seditious, and had the goal of overthrowing their governments as well, I think that a kind of breakthrough became possible,” Reaboi said.

“Western criticisms of the Brotherhood suddenly made a lot more sense to many Arab citizens, especially in places like Egypt, which had to claw itself out of a Brotherhood takeover. I think there's a broad coalition now of anti-Islamists across the globe, and it's confounding a lot of the pro-Islamist mainstream media and befuddling a lot of so-called Middle East experts.”




Qatar seeks to mold opinion via US universities. (Shutterstock)

Data shows that Qatar is using its funds to mold American public opinion through such universities as Georgetown, Texas A&M, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), Cornell, Michigan and Northwestern. Georgetown, VCU, Cornell and Texas A&M have even established branch campuses in Qatar. And Qatar is funding the Brookings Institution, Cernovich says.

These investments have helped Qatar deflect news media attention away from its extremist agenda plus its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, and towards Saudi Arabia, which is leading the criticism of Qatar’s extremist ties.

Qatari investments mainly in real estate and investments in the US exceed $45 billion, according to a January 2019 report from Reuters news agency.

Reaboi said Qatar leads the world in pushing a political agenda through lobbying and media funding.

“Arguably, there’s no other country that’s even half as aggressive in the foreign-influence game as Qatar. Americans should be aware of its dangerous information and influence efforts,” he said.

What makes Qatar’s investments even more suspicious is that Qatar has turned to legal means to prevent state governments from forcing detailed disclosures of how their funds are being used.

Qatar Foundation filed a lawsuit against the Texas attorney general’s office to prevent the state from forcing Texas A&M University to disclose the details of its contract with Qatar.

Doha claimed that the terms of the contract are a “trade secret” and thus exposure could hurt Qatar Foundation’s interests. In the US, private institutions are not required to disclose their contract terms but Texas A&M is a public institution.

 

Watch the full documentary, Blood Money: How Qatar Bought off the D.C. Media Establishment, on Youtube.

 


UN warns of severe aid cuts in Yemen without new funds soon

Updated 22 August 2019

UN warns of severe aid cuts in Yemen without new funds soon

  • Donors have pledged $2.6 billion to meet the urgent needs of more than 20 million Yemenis
  • But UN humanitarian chief Lise Grande says less than half the amount has been received so far
UNITED NATIONS: The UN humanitarian chief in Yemen warned Wednesday that unless significant new funding is received in the coming weeks, food rations for 12 million people in the war-torn country will be reduced and at least 2.5 million malnourished children will be cut off from life-saving services.
Lise Grande said the UN was forced to suspend most vaccination campaigns in May, and without new money a “staggering” 22 life-saving programs in Yemen will close in the next two months.
At a UN pledging conference in February, donors pledged $2.6 billion to meet the urgent needs of more than 20 million Yemenis, but Grande said that to date, less than half the amount has been received.
“When money doesn’t come, people die,” she said in a statement Wednesday.
The conflict in Yemen began with the 2014 takeover of the capital, Sanaa, by Iran-backed Houthi Shiite rebels who control much of the country’s north. A Saudi-led coalition that includes the United Arab Emirates allied with Yemen’s internationally recognized government has been fighting the Houthis since 2015.
The fighting in the Arab world’s poorest country has left thousands of civilians and created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, leaving millions suffering from food and medical care shortages and pushing the country to the brink of famine.
UN deputy humanitarian chief Ursula Mueller told the Security Council on Tuesday that 12 million Yemenis have been assisted every month, “but much of this is about to stop” because only 34% of the UN’s $4.2 billion appeal for 2019 has been funded.
At this time last year, she said, 65% of the appeal was funded, including generous contributions from Yemen’s neighbors Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The UN humanitarian office in New York said Wednesday that Saudi Arabia and the UAE each pledged $750 million to its Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan for 2019.
Grande said the UN is grateful to donors who have lived up to their promises, and in half the districts where people were facing famine “conditions have improved to the point where families are no longer at risk of starvation.”
But she said of the 34 major UN humanitarian programs in Yemen, only three are funded for the entire year. Several have been forced to close in recent weeks, Grande said, and many large-scale projects designed to help destitute, hungry families have been unable to start.
Without new funds in the coming weeks, she said, 19 million people will also lose access to health care, including 1 million women who depend on the UN for reproductive health services. In addition, Grande said, clean water programs for 5 million people will have to shut down at the end of October and tens of thousands of displaced families may find themselves homeless.
“Millions of people in Yemen, who through no fault of their own are the victims of this conflict, depend on us to survive,” she said. “All of us are ashamed by the situation. It’s heart-breaking to look a family in the eye and say we have no money to help.”