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Qatar’s Poison Reaches Australia

Qatar’s Poison Reaches Australia

Monday, 30 July, 2018 - 06:00
Salman Al-dossary
Salman Aldosary is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper
The Sunday Times brought to light over the weekend a new Qatari scandal when it released secret documents that implicate Doha in paying millions of dollars to sabotage the campaigns of its rival bidders competing over hosting the 2022 World Cup. The newspaper spoke of “black operations” by Qatar, which had hired employees at major PR companies and former CIA agents to run a smear campaign against the United States and Australia.

Of course, Qatar’s actions are an unprecedented form of corruption in the race to host the World Cup and a blatant violation of FIFA regulations.

Away from whether the leaks will lead to more calls for withdrawing its right to host the tournament, what Qatar did reveals only one of its indispensable tools in carrying out its policies: Using dirty money to achieve its goals. It doesn’t care whether it uses legitimate routes or not, it believes that money alone can help it reach its prize.

I don’t think anyone is surprised with the latest Qatari scandal. It is only one of a series of others that have plagued its victory to host the world’s most famous tournament. I do not believe it is greater or more severe than the scandal that was revealed by the BBC weeks ago over Doha’s payment of the largest ransom in history to terrorist groups. The common factor in both cases is money. Qatar always believes that it can do anything it wants, in terms of sabotage and stirring chaos, as long as it has money.

The Sunday Times said that Qatar hired journalists, bloggers and other personalities to write negative stories, spy on competitors and spark popular protests. These are the games that Doha is good at. It employs media to attack its rivals with false reports and claims. The Sunday Times may have exposed Qatar’s dark ways in harming its World Cup rivals, but our region has for over two decades been suffering the most from its deliberate destabilizing policy that relies on dirty money and complicit media.

I believe that the severity of the corruption case surrounding the hosting of the World Cup and its impact on football is much less dangerous than the major Qatari disaster of funding terrorist groups. Doha has used international cover, the Muslim Brotherhood, ransom claims and political deals to finance such groups. Qatar’s wealth has not only corrupted sport, but it has led to the death and displacement of millions of people as the world stood idly by.

The most dangerous details of the British report were the email revelations that Qatar was aware of the smear campaign against its World Cup rivals. Doha even prepared a legislation for US Congress on the negative impact of the US hosting the tournament. This point is key because it shows that Qatar uses its poison against rivals and allies alike. None of these allies know when they may be bitten. If the regime can sting the world’s greatest power, which also boasts a major military air base on Qatari soil, wouldn't it also sting its neighbors?

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