The anti-Qatar lobby Part 2
What is behind the huge campaign against the Qatar World Cup. Is it really about “terrorism”, “workers’ rights” and “LGBT” issues? Or are there geopolitical concerns and a whiff of racism in play?
The state-led campaign to stop the World Cup in Qatar may have originated with the Zionist regime, but they were soon joined by a number of allies. At the forefront, was the authoritarian regime of the United Arab Emirates, and later, the Saudi Arabia regime played a significant role. The origins of the UAE’s animus to Qatar are due to Doha’s support for democratic reforms in the region, which the UAE sees as a threat. Of course, the UAE and its allies (Saudi, Bahrain, and Egypt) promoted the idea that support for “terrorism” was the cause of their blockade of Qatar from 2017 – just like Zionist elements of the campaign. In reality, they wanted to combat the very forces in those countries pushing for democratic reforms and curb ties to Iran. We know this since the list of 13 demands issued was public.
Football and the World Cup became more central to the UAE’s campaign in 2017. A key figure in this milieu was Ghanem Nuseibeh from the well-known Palestinian family of the same name. In 2017, his London-based consultancy, Cornerstone Global Associates, produced a report attacking Qatar, leading to a rash of headlines questioning whether the World Cup would come to Qatar in the end. Corporate investigations firm Diligence reportedly suspected the report was funded by the UAE. Nuseibeh, however, stated it. “was not funded by any client” but was produced “to inform our clients in the Gulf”.
Later leaked documents reported in The New York Times revealed “close ties between Cornerstone Global Associates and individuals and companies in the U.A.E”.
The New York Times also revealed that Cornerstone was behind a July 2018 Sunday Times report billed as a bombshell: “Exclusive: Qatar Sabotaged 2022 World Cup Rivals With ‘Black Ops’”. According to Nuseibeh, in October 2022: “Cornerstone has no communicational contract with the UAE”, which of course is not a denial about other kinds of contracts.
A more public figurehead of the campaign was the self-styled “Qatari dissident” Khaled al-Hail who appears to have been a UAE asset during this period. Al-Hail was behind the Foundation For Sports Integrity which ran two lavish events in London. Though it tried to obscure its funding, certain bookings associated with the events were made by a company of which al-Hail's wife was a director. Key figures from the "Israel" lobby were involved, including Simon Johnson, who had led the British FA bid for the world cup and was also head of the Jewish Leadership Council, and Alan Mendoza who is Vice-Chair at the Jewish National Fund UK, the parent body of which is a key agent of ethnic cleansing in Palestine. He is also the director of the Henry Jackson Society, the neoconservative think tank bankrolled by a host of Zionist foundations.
Nuseibeh, too, has connections to the Henry Jackson Society, having been listed in 2010 as an adviser to Just Journalism, which for a short while attempted to police anti-"Israel" commentary in the British Media. It was later folded into the HJS.
According to The Times, in 2020, Nuseibeh launched a legal case against WhatsApp “over claims that a private travel itinerary was hacked from his account”. The report of this action helpfully noted that a Macedonian website, had “posted a copy of a travel itinerary that showed Nuseibeh had flown with French senator Nathalie Goulet from Paris to Abu Dhabi and back in 2015.” Given Nuseibeh was claiming that his account had been hacked he, perhaps inadvertently, effectively confirmed the documents were genuine. In June 2022, Goulet presented her book in London on a trip paid for by Cornerstone Global. Goulet has admitted to travelling to London “on several occasions” with Cornerstone. “I have worked for years with [Ghanem Nuseibeh] on terrorism issues”, she explained, going on to smear the Muslim Brotherhood with the terror label: “I am very proud of the work we are doing to stop the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Another strand to the campaign was proposed by Lynton Crosby. He offered to work to get the World Cup awarded to another country in return for £5.5m. Crosby, of course, has a history of Islamophobic outbursts, such as when he reportedly advised Boris Johnson not to bother pursuing the votes of “f****** Muslims,” or when he ran the Islamophobic campaign of Zac Goldsmith for London Mayor in 2016 by focusing on the alleged “extremism” of his Muslim opponent Sadiq Khan.
According to The Guardian, the “detailed pitch document – "a proposal for a campaign to expose the truth of the Qatar regime and bring about the termination of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar" – was written in April  and personally signed by Crosby”. The document was apparently written for Al-Hail.
In response to The Guardian, “Crosby’s lawyers said no contract with Al-Hail was ever entered into and none of the work outlined in the proposal was undertaken”. CTF Partners did confirm it provided Al-Hail with “a minimal amount of media advice” during July’s state visit to London by the Emir of Qatar. “During this visit” The Guardian reported, “a PR company that had previously worked with Al-Hail made a disastrously farcical attempt to pay hundreds of actors to protest outside Downing Street during the emir’s visit”.
The state-led campaign against Qatar entered overdrive when The Guardian published a claim in early 2021 that some 6,500 migrant workers had died in Qatar in the course of the construction projects. This was subject to some concerted pushback from Qatar, such that three corrections were made, including a passage stating that the number of deaths “is proportionate to the size of the migrant workforce… that the figures include white-collar workers … that only 20 per cent of expatriates from the countries in question are employed in construction, and that work-related deaths in this sector accounted for fewer than 10 percent of fatalities within this group”.
This should be enough for the rational reader to conclude that some massaging of the data was being attempted. An additional detail is that the article was published in a sponsored series as The Guardian acknowledges “supported, in part, through a grant to theguardian.org by Humanity United”. Humanity United is not open about its funding arrangements though it states it is part of the Omidyar Group - a foundation used by Pierre Omidyar to promote regime change around the world including in Syria, Ukraine, Zimbabwe, and elsewhere, in many cases alongside US intelligence adjacent groups like USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy. There is no suggestion that the Guardian was aware of any such links.
The other (Western) states at the forefront of recent campaigns against Qatar are all endemically Islamophobic, both in policy and culture, and their anti-Qatar campaigns have reflected that. In Denmark, World Cup “protest” football kits were unveiled in September. Holland, Norway, and Germany's football teams all wore protest T-shirts in the qualifiers. Meanwhile in France, investigative reports have unearthed “a systematic vilification of Qatar, accused of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, supposedly a terrorist organisation” by the lobby of the UAE.
In addition to the “terrorism” and “LGBT+” lines of attack, perhaps the most prominent one has been on “workers' rights,” which even “revolutionary socialist” groups in the UK have been parroting. What is most astonishing is not that propaganda lines from "Israel or the UAE would be taken up as self-evident, but that no one seems to pause for thought about the Western companies that are carrying out these contracts. All the criticism has been targeted at Qatar as a Muslim/Arab country and none at all at the companies that are actually building the stadiums, many of which are European and are making massive margins while exploiting South Asian workers. For example, Dutch firms are making “millions”, while German firm Hightext won a stadium contract in 2017. Where is the campaign against these entities from western countries?
The scam is - make the money, sacrifice workers if need be, outsource all the reputational risk to the Arab country - rely on Western nations’ anti-Arab racism, ignorance, and the lack of media freedom to whip up a confection of outrage.
Not surprisingly, the British are near the top of the hypocrisy scale. UK companies such as Carillion and Hyder were reportedly involved in contracts worth billions of Dollars, eagerly promoted by the British government. The cherry on the cake of hypocrisy is the Ministry of Defence's announcement in May this year that it “will support Qatar with military capabilities to counter terrorism and other threats to the tournament” utilising both the RAF and Royal Navy.
In the end, the attacks on Qatar are about its refusal to always go along with Western interests. It’s not as if the country has even been consistent in this regard. Massive contracts for Western firms, ceding control of its maritime and aerial security to the UK, the continued existence of a massive US base there and - let’s not forget – the involvement in the NATO proxy war against Syria are all indications of the ambiguous position of the country.
Nevertheless, its support for the Palestinians, democratic reforms, and cordial relations with Iran are the real reasons that "Israel", the UAE, the Saudis, and the others are motivated to attack Qatar.