As a number of commentators have written, the World soccer extravaganza should never been held in Qatar. It was simply a matter of who could supply the most money to the right people at the right time. Qatar had the money to buy the constructions materials, the engineers to design the infrastructure , and most importantly the indentured slave labor to build the facilities. There were no environmental, or human rights radicals to institute law suits or form human shields to contend with. It is an object lesson how totalitarian regimes outperform slow moving democracies in doing these sorts of mammoth projects in a shorter time. Of course the glittering malls, buildings and projects so quickly erected in the Middle East, at a huge human cost, are are often “Instant ruins,” i.e. they do not get proper maintenance and deteriorate quickly.
The human cost according to some sources were 400-500 migrant worker deaths, of the hundreds of thousands employed on the 200 Billion $ project. Of course one has to understand that these workers came to Qatar to work and escape the misery of the hell holes that they came from. A very telling commentary on the status of what used to be called “developing nations” that have never developed……
sending many of their hungry and dispossessed to the West or the U.S. where all too often they suddenly acquire some fondness for the hell holes they came from, witness the Moroccan rampages in Belgium, celebrating “their ” win over Belgium in Qatar.
“‘Qatar’, say the Arabs , is the land that God Forgot.” Not a single feature of note relieves the monotony of its landscape. Cultivation is unknown and there are no wadis or fresh water with the exception of wells that supply salty water. As JB H Kelly, the preeminent historian of the Persian Gulf wrote,” It is not the fault of the Qataris that they have no history, nor can it be held against them that the they would like to invent one.- though it is doubtful whether most of them care one way or another.”Arabia, The Gulf, and the West
One can go to the flashy websites produced by theQatari government that appears to show digitally the ability of the well-paid Western media types to come up with some sort of history and cultural icons, mostly mythical, to provide history out of not much of anything. The Royal family has ruled the tribal conglomeration which the British lashed together ejecting the Ottomans became known as Qatar. Qatar now resembles a modern day Athens with few citizens- about 10% of the population, and the preponderance being the helots. The 10% of the population of Qatar who are citizens get all the benefits of a super nanny state from the womb to the tomb. Some of the 90% are well paid Western, and Levantine skilled managerial types but the vast majority are the Pakistanis, Iranians, Filipinos, Nepalese, that toil for a pittance,… but till much better than they would have gotten at home.
Qatar leadership plays a very coy game internationally, hosting a huge American airbase, being loudly acclaimed as an American ally, while promoting three piece suited terrorists found among the Muslim Brotherhood. The MB is financed, and extolled by the Qatari mouthpiece of the Royal family, the Al Jazeera mega-media universe. They are also big friends of the Iranian mullah regime of blood thirsty theocrats. They also enjoy the warm embrace of Turkey’s Erdogan. With their lavish supply of money they have created well financed and staffed lobbies in the Western world. Congressmen and bureaucrats find all sorts of reasons to support Qatar and their policies. The Qatari connection to the Iranian tyrants is particularly interesting as is the strange Biden administration passion in pursuing a nuclear deal that has long outlived its usefulness—if it ever had one. The muted Biden pronouncements on the Iranian slow burning revolution is very mysterious, as is the near silence of then Biden supporting media….typical of a state-run media. The protest in China and the Ukrainian war are a daily feature in the media…but not the Iranian revolution in an anti-American Iran. As David Christ in his much praised book The Twilight War , brought out in the words of General Mattis, the Biden administration had no policy toward Iran other pursuit of the Nuclear deal. Actually appeasement of the Mullah regime by the Obama-Biden administrations has been a consistent feature of their policy in the Middle East.The Obama-Biden-Burns-Kerry-Malley love affair with Iran should some day day be the subject of a psychological examination of the relationship.
The Qatari-Iran close relationship was manifested in the US-Iranian soccer match. Qatari women, probably government employees were sent to cheer for Iran. The Qatari officials met with IRGC officials to work out details designed to curb anti-Iranian demonstrations at the games. Anti Iranian demonstrators were to be identified and passed to Iranian security thugs. The lengths the Qatari officials went to satisfy the paranoid security concerns of the Iranian regime are amazing. But it should be no surprise in that Qatari money supports Iranian terrorism across the globe, as well as Muslim Brotherhood Islamist designs on infiltration of Western governments….something they have done very well. This is an example of the delicate balancing act of the Qatari regime; Supporting the Shia- hating Muslim Brotherhood and at the same time the triumphalism of the Shi’a regime of the Iranian mullahs. In the Iranian-US match the Iranian players displayed the arrogant, supercilious attitude of their Iranian rulers. The team, which has been institutionalized as part of the Iranian regime, was loudly jeered in Iran by Iranian protesters–something else not noted by our media.
I spent a couple of weeks in Qatar back in 2003-2004 awaiting transportation to Iraq and exiting Iraq going home. It was during the Christmas season and I noted the irony of the artificial Christmas trees, gaily lighted in the malls and the MBO’s ( moving Black Objects), as the troops called the totally covered Qatari women. Other than shop I wondered what do Qataris do all day? It should be called the land of indolence, as insofar as I can determine, no one works. One shop manager, a Lebanese told me that his Qatari boss comes in maybe once a week, drinks some tea and departs. Like all Arab countries that have an enormously bloated bureaucracy. It seems to exist only to thwart any evidence of individual initiative. Unlike Arabs in general, always passionate and vivacious, Qataris seem to have no personality, or passion, either than state sponsored anti -semitism, and appear to be somewhat robotic in mannerisms, likely the result of never having to fight for anything or do productive work. A characteristic of nanny and socialist states, whether Arab or Western.
The Qataris have no heroes, their army being a joke, despite some very high priced equipment. They were somehow involved in the Saudi -UAE war against the Huthies in Yemen but apparently were undistinguished in any combat. The supposedly helped train Libyan rebels and have military exchanges with Tunisia but nothing stands out. In the first Gulf war ( Desert Storm), a Qatari armored car regiment was involved in the reoccupation of Khafji after the Iraqi occupation. . However the soldiers were Jordanian mercenaries. Most of the current info on the Qatari armed forces I gleaned from Zoltan Barany (Armies of Arabia). Barany is very politic in his description of the Qatar armed forces but suffice to say they could not punch their way out of a wet paper bag. Hence their rather cloying attitude toward Iran and refusal to cooperate with other Persian gulf nations to confront Iran. Nevertheless their hosting of Western military bases and personnel is an important part of the US posture in the Middle East.
One wonders what happens to this Alice in Wonderland Emirate when the money runs out ….. Will it be the subject of one of those programs in which the hosts visit ghost cities and explore the quickly decaying ruins? Will all the trees watered daily using what little precious water they have be withered stumps? Will the golf courses still be visible under the sand dunes? Will the future generations understand that man versus nature will always be a losing war?
Tex, good article. I’ve spent enough time in Qatar myself to have observed first hand much of what you described..
Thanks Chris. Appreciate kind words. Trying to keep my brain functioning… not much interest in the ME these days. After all those years and blood and treasure the US we Have little to show for it. Hope all is well with you and stay in touch in