If Qatar turns its back on Hamas

Qatar has threatened to close Hamas' political office in the capital Doha if the group does not accept the ceasefire agreement proposed by the United States and Israel, CNN reported citing a US official. Never before has the decades-long relationship between Qatar and Hamas been so fragile as in these hours. The broadcaster reports that US officials are urging Qatar, Egypt and Türkiye to increase pressure on Hamas. According to two of those officials, the United States has asked several countries to threaten to freeze the bank accounts of Hamas members and limit their ability to travel freely in the region. CNN recalls that US officials have publicly invited the group to accept previous ceasefire proposals, but underlines that there has never been an all-out pressure campaign characterized by specific requests to individual countries, in the context of efforts by the Biden administration to reach a ceasefire and the release of the hostages. Arab officials said the group had contacted at least two countries in the region in recent weeks asking whether they would be open to the idea of ​​its political leaders moving to their capitals. Oman is one of the countries contacted, an Arab official said. Arab officials said Hamas believes hostage negotiations could last many more months, putting the group's close ties with Qatar and its presence in Doha at risk. Qatar, which has been financing Hamas and its leaders for decades in fear of American and Saudi retaliation, has been working for months to put an end to the wars in Gaza and increase aid to the Palestinians.

The former emir of Qatar was the first world leader to visit Gaza after Hamas took control of the territory by force in 2007. Sheikh Hamad, father of the current emir, visited the coastal enclave and pledged 400 million of dollars in support. Since then, Qatar has poured around $1.8 billion into Hamas-administered Gaza. In January 2021, Doha pledged $360 million in annual support to the enclave, partly to subsidize government salaries. About a third of Qatar's support is provided in the form of fuel, which Hamas authorities sell for cash. Additionally, Hamas collects kickbacks from salaries and other aid flowing into Gaza. Over the past six months, according to the Wall Street Journal, Doha «has helped these relations impact one of the world's thorniest diplomatic crises, demonstrating its value as an ally of the United States and at the same time raising its profile as an indispensable mediator of the Middle East.” But Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Qatar's prime minister and foreign minister, recently said the Gulf state was reevaluating its role as a mediator between Israel and Hamas. He cited what he called unfair criticism of Qatar's efforts to end the war in Gaza. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said pressure should be brought to bear on Qatar, which played a significant role in brokering the November truce and prisoner exchange between Hamas and Israel. “There are limits to this role and limits to the ability with which we can contribute to these negotiations in a constructive way,” the Qatari leader said in a press conference, adding: “The State of Qatar will make the appropriate decision at the right time ». The current leader of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, 61 years old, who has led the jihadist organization since 2017, has accumulated assets of around five billion dollars. About two years ago, together with his family, he left his home in the al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza and now lives in an ultra-luxury hotel in Doha from where he looks after his enormous real estate interests spread across Lebanon, Turkey and Dubai. His predecessor, Khaled Meshal, worth around four billion dollars, also moved to Qatar in 2012, taking with him the political office of Hamas, previously located in Syria. Other high-ranking officials who are also very wealthy, including Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas spokesperson in the Gaza Strip, and Tahar al-Nounou, Haniyeh's political advisor, have found refuge in Qatar. Some U.S. lawmakers and Israeli politicians have been calling for months for the White House to force Qatar to cut ties with Hamas and face punitive action for what they say amounts to support for terrorism. It is clear that for Qatar the intransigence of the Hamas leadership, shaken by the differences between the political wing and the military wing of Yaya Sinwar and Mohammedi Deif who are hidden underground in the Gaza Strip, has become a huge problem and hence the pragmatic decision to separate at least physically. It is good to specify this aspect and no one is under any illusions because Qatar will certainly not stop financing Hamas which is the armed wing of the Muslim Brotherhood that Doha has protected and financed for decades. So if Doha closes the political office of Hamas it will be nothing more than yet another cosmetic operation from which the Mossad could benefit because the leaders of Hamas have actually been real Dead Man Walking since 7 October 2023. .