Could Qatar’s role in Afghanistan herald Hamas’ takeover of the West Bank?

Video emerged on Sunday of a military parade in Kabul, Afghanistan. Lines of military vehicles, members of the Taliban in modern military uniforms with all the standardized tactical gear and rifles to go along with it.

You would be wrong if you thought you were seeing a “terrorist” or “militia” force here, it was a standardized army that suddenly emerged from the shadows.

How is that possible, considering that the Taliban were supposedly fighting the most powerful country in the world and also fighting other Western countries and the “Afghan army”?

The question has ramifications because Qatar played its cards perfectly in Afghanistan, seeing the long-term scam and the bigger picture. He housed the Taliban for years, waiting for the United States to call him, and now the United States relies on Qatar to represent its interests. In a sense, the United States took a turn to back the Taliban and Qatar made it possible.

It is entirely plausible that Qatar, having hosted Hamas and backed Hamas for decades, could one day offer Washington and the West the same deal in the West Bank: we will help bring a more modern version of Hamas to power, with the M-16s. and American vehicles, and in return we will represent American interests in Ramallah and the Palestinian Authority can quietly bow to our takeover. How could this happen? First we have to explore a little history about how it happened in Afghanistan.

Taliban delegates Shahabuddin Delawar and Khairullah Khairkhwa wait before a meeting with US and European delegates in Doha, Qatar, on October 12, 2021 (credit: REUTERS / STRINGER).

Reuters described the recent event in Kabul: “Taliban forces staged a military parade in Kabul using captured US-made armored vehicles and Russian helicopters in a display showing their ongoing transformation from an insurgent force to a standing army.”

The miracle by which the Taliban suddenly emerged to rule Afghanistan, again, after some 20 years, cannot be understood without understanding how the United States has outsourced its Afghan policy to Qatar over the past few years. Qatar now represents America’s interests in Afghanistan.

This turn of events is interesting. We were told that the United States was “fighting” the Taliban after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Yet like many aspects of the global war on terror, the United States has often been associated with regimes that back the terrorists the United States is fighting. A cynic might posit that this is some kind of conspiracy, and this refrain has been heard over the years in claims that the United States “supports Al Qaeda” or that the United States “created Al-Qaeda and ISIS” . Neither are precise statements. The United States supported extremists in Afghanistan in the 1980s to fight the Soviets. Some of those groups, which had ties to Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the Gulf in the 1990s, also had ties to the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Later, the United States had a role supporting Syrian rebels in Syria in 2012, and although some of those rebels joined Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, an offshoot of Al Qaeda, there is no direct link to the role of the United States. .

However, the role of Qatar is more complex. Qatar has long backed the extremists in the region. Like Pakistan, it has preferred the Taliban and far-right Islamist groups. Qatar’s ties have been to the Muslim Brotherhood and also to Hamas and the Ankara regime, whose ruling AKP party is also linked to the Brotherhood.

Qatar has also positioned itself as a sponsor of Western think tanks and media, with its own Al Jazeera channel repeating its views and never criticizing Qatar. These are state-backed media messages, but in the West it is viewed simply as one of many types of media, rather than similar to Russia’s RT.

In the region, Al-Jazeera has often been seen as undermining regimes that oppose the Brotherhood. That means he has been criticized for his role in Egypt in 2012, for his role in criticizing Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and his role in Sudan and Tunisia.

For the United States, the role of Qatar, and its apparent janus face of working with the West while working with extremist groups, is attractive. Qatar can be an intermediary with all these groups that it hosts, be it the Taliban or Hamas, or even as an interlocutor with Iran, with whom Qatar maintains friendly ties. For other Gulf states, Qatar’s role of having its own independent politics and grandiose politics ruffled the feathers in Riyadh, leading to the 2017 Gulf crisis. But for the United States, this only enhanced Qatar’s image as a potential way for the United States to get out of Afghanistan.

As Washington sought to turn toward close rivalries with China and Russia, ending the war on terror was essential.

Qatar came up with a kind of Corleone-style offer that Washington could not refuse. Qatar would work with the Taliban, allow them to become a respectable military force that could take control of Afghanistan when the United States leaves.

The Afghan government, which was corrupt and had raised billions in support of the United States, and too much of that money was going back to the United States or other Gulf states to buy villas and cars, would be asked to leave the stage on the left. At the appointed time, the Taliban would emerge, not as an armed mob and extremist group blowing up Buddhist statues and massacring Shiites, as happened in the 1990s, but as the new Taliban, equipped like a NATO army with American vehicles.

No one would have believed this story if it hadn’t happened before our eyes. One day the United States was withdrawing, the next day the Taliban were in Kabul, and months later their forces appeared to be wearing the kind of uniforms Western military wear.

Women’s faces have disappeared from advertisements, Shiites are being massacred again, but for Western countries whose goal is “stability” and who tend to prefer authoritarian regimes to complex democracies, the outcome in Afghanistan is preferred.

Western democracies have never had qualms about the massive sectarian violence that extremist groups inflicted on Shiites from Afghanistan to Pakistan and what was done at Tal Afar in Iraq. Minorities get rights in Europe, not in the strip of countries from Morocco to Pakistan. The role of the Taliban today in Afghanistan is considered the least bad option from the point of view of the United States and NATO members.

The question is whether Qatar could bait and change this in the West Bank, having worked with Hamas for years. In general, the apparatus of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank somewhat resembles the old Afghan government. Accused of corruption and abuse, aging leadership and rulers who could be described as “warlords” in charge of various areas, he runs a collection of policies that do not work well.

From the bubbling chaos in Jenin to Hebron, the Palestinian Authority is always on the brink of crisis. Like the old Afghan government, it absorbs massive amounts of foreign aid and never seems to invest that in infrastructure, instead the money seems to go to the sons and daughters of the elites and then probably moved overseas to foreign bank accounts.

According to CBS in 2003, former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat “diverted nearly a billion dollars in public funds.” Large sums of money disappeared from the coffers in Ramallah during the year. The Palestinians may be poor, but their leaders are rich, and much of the foreign money brought into Ramallah from Europe over the years likely ended up in Europe in villages.

Hamas’s appeal has always been its claim not to be corrupt. For the locals, who may one day be asked to elect a Qatari-backed Hamas to the aging leadership in Ramallah, it is entirely plausible that they may give in to the way Afghanistan collapsed. Western-backed political structures have tended to be rotten and unable to fight such appeals.

Consider the total failure of the Iraqi government in 2014 against ISIS, despite all the money the United States had invested in the “Iraqi army.” It was largely Iranian-backed Shiite militias that saved Baghdad from ISIS, not the US-supplied hardware that was rotting on Iraqi bases in 2014.

It remains to be seen whether an Afghan scenario could play out in the West Bank. Of course, there are many other issues at stake because the Palestinian Authority is not a paper tiger backed by NATO forces, its security forces have been trained by the United States but largely operate on their own over the last decade. However, Qatar’s role in suddenly emerging as the power broker in Kabul, after years of planning and organizing meetings, is one that it could attempt to emerge in Ramallah in one form or another after years of playing a larger role in Loop.

The United States is once again backing Palestinian unity, each time that concept arises it is Qatar that sees potential gains for itself. Other countries with a role, such as Egypt, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Jordan must grapple with this problem. Turkey, of course, would like a Qatari setting in Ramallah. Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, and others probably wouldn’t want that. Israel and the United States may have other calculations as well. Qatar has undoubtedly learned from its success in Kabul: Make yourself indispensable to war-weary Western countries by taking in extremists who want to appease, and then, in the end, play the role of peacemaker.

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