Tablet, Feb. 6, 2024
“From the Pentagon to the capital’s paper of record, Qatar has Washington covered. It’s Iran’s stalking horse.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was recently caught on a recording wondering why the Biden White House wasn’t putting more pressure on Qatar to squeeze Hamas and free more than a hundred Israeli, American, and other hostages still left in Gaza. Netanyahu told hostage families that Qatar “is no different in essence than the United Nations … and the Red Cross.” The controversial petro-emirate, he clarified, “is even more problematic.”
That mildly critical assessment of Iran’s bagman offended the Qataris—a Foreign Ministry spokesman complained that the emirate was “appalled” by Netanyahu’s remarks. It seems that in Qatar, calling someone “problematic” is as bad as calling their mother a whore. The Israeli leader’s comments, said the spokesman, are “obstructing and undermining the mediation process, for reasons that appear to serve his political career instead of prioritizing saving innocent lives, including Israeli hostages.”
Qatar says it gets hostage deals done because it doesn’t take sides, like a geopolitical marriage counselor, but that’s not what an impartial mediator is supposed to sound like. No, that sounds like a spin doctor for a political operation designed to turn Israeli opinion against their government during wartime: When Iran’s Palestinian proxy tortures your brothers and sisters held in captivity until they’re dead, blame Bibi. And indeed, Qatar is using the Oct. 7 hostage crisis as a platform for an Iranian information operation weaponized to demoralize the Israeli public and leave Hamas standing.