About the growing church in Qatar, this article says, “In recognition of potential concerns, the church does not have a cross on display outside and there are police stationed in vehicles nearby to ensure the safety of worshippers.” And it quotes Father Veneracion from the church, saying: “They”re a young nation with a very rich and strong history of Islam and in the past years they”ve been trying to find their identity.”
What identity crisis does Qatar have? None at all. The ruling Al-Thani family counts among its members a prince who tipped off an Al Qaeda member that the FBI was closing in, so that he managed to escape. The ruling family allows Al Jazeera to broadcast, and Al-Qaradawi to offer his advice to Muslims on what’s Haram and Halal, with the usual sly support for attacks on civilians and for suicide bombings. Suicide bombings, in the Muslim view, are not equivalent to “suicide,” but are merely extremely daring and risky attacks on Infidels, lacking the intent, or perhaps one should say the mens rea, to commit suicide. For suicide would be wrong, but mass murder of Infidels who get in the way of Islam is just fine.
Qatar uses the American presence as its insurance. It can count on none of its big neighbors — not Iran (with which Qatar has friendly relations); not a revived Iraq possibly, in the future, looking to push its weight around; and not Saudi Arabia, a big bully in its own right on the Arabian Peninsula, even if it is scared of Iran. Consider, for example, Saudi behavior in the Buraimi Oasis dispute in the 1950s, when the Saudis seized territory from Abu Dhabi to which — see J. B. Kelly — they had no legal right. See also the Saudi support for the Dhofar rebellion against the Sultan of Oman, or Saudi meddling on the “Royalist” side in Yemen. Why should not the Al-Thani try to manipulate the Americans into protecting them, and at the same time get those endlessly naive Americans to actually be grateful for the chance? It’s the same with American bases in Kuwait and Bahrain; they are allowed there only because the local rulers want a guarantee of American protection. That the Defense Department, that the State Department, haven’t yet adequately understood that, and haven’t charged the many billions (or in the case of Saudi Arabia, tens of billions) annually for such a presence, and such a guarantee, is just par for the goddam course. The Americans spend two trillion to bring “freedom” to “ordinary moms and dads” in the Middle East, that is, to Iraq, and apparently are unable to even ask Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the U.A.E. and other neighbors to come up with a few hundred billion, if they know what’s good for them, and don’t want the Sunnis in Iraq to be completely eliminated from Baghdad, which is along with Cairo the most important city (after Mecca and Medina) in Arab Islam, and possibly reduced to wandering in the Western desert.
Why do the Americans seem unable to ask for payment from the likes of Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, and above all, Saudi Arabia, when the Al Saud depend entirely on American protection, on American trainers, on American and other Western medical care and higher education? Why is the true balance of forces still not understood? Saudi Arabia now has $444 billion in reserves. Some of that money ought to be forked over in partial payment for the Iraq venture, and some to pay for the American military presence in the Gulf. For without that presence all hell would break loose, and the Iranians would be able not only to keep the Tunb Islands, and Musa, but would cause all kinds of trouble in Bahrain, and in Hasa Province, where all the large oilfields are located, in eastern Saudi Arabia — not to mention what they might do in the Straits of Hormuz. Yet it is the American taxpayers who are paying for the inability of our own government to recognize its duty, and its ability, to exact large sums of money from the ruling families of the Gulf, who have managed to buffalo too many into thinking it is they who are doing us a favor. Those particular buffaloes should be headed for extinction.