A pro-Israel think-tank, the Middle East Forum, organised an event on Wednesday in Washington DC where speakers criticised Qatar for supporting Palestinian issues.
Speakers at the Forum – set up by Daniel Pipes who has been criticised for his Islamophobic and Orientalist views – censured Al Jazeera for its coverage of conflicts and politics in the Middle East.
Pipes, who achieved notoriety in 1990 when he wrote: “The Muslims are coming! The Muslims are coming!” an article filled with racial epithets, said the invitation-only event wanted to “explore and draw conclusions about a tiny country’s large influence in the Middle East and beyond”.
“I think you can probably tell from our hashtag where the answer lies – the hashtag is #QatartheMenace, as in ‘Dennis the Menace’ but ‘Qatar the Menace”, Pipes said at the event that was shrouded in mystery for weeks.
The Middle East Forum regularly publishes the Israel Victory Project, a forum that aims “to steer US policy toward backing an Israel victory over the Palestinians”.
The forum also runs Campus Watch which issues a list of “recommended professors” and another list of “professors to avoid” – nearly all of whom are critical of Israel.
Also speaking at the eight-hour long event were Republican Congressmen Roger Marshall and Jack Bergman.
Marshall started the proceedings praising US President Donald Trump’s decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem which triggered protests in Palestine which resulted in at least 55 Palestinian deaths and more than 2,400 injuries.
“One of Trump’s finest achievements includes finally recognising Jeruslam as Israel’s capital, something which was important to me, personally,” he said.
“As a global leader the US is faced with many complex challenges and uncertainties abroad. In the Middle East we have strong allies to confront these threats and they continue to be more important than ever.
“We need to know who is our friend and who is our foe – and you can’t be both”.
‘I am a very angry man’
Also speaking at the event was Mohamed Fahmy, who is currently taking legal action against Al Jazeera.
Fahmy is suing the network for over $100m saying it knowingly endangered his life when he served as its Cairo bureau chief in 2013 following the military coup of then president Mohamed Morsi.
According to the New York Times, Fahmy received a substantial “loan” from the UAE’s ambassador to the US, Yousef al-Otaiba, when he was released from prison after 437 days in prison.
Otaiba is a well-known figure in the United States national security circles and in leaked emails told former US diplomat Elliot Abrams that “conquering Qatar would solve everyone’s problems”.
In June 2017, Saudi Arabia and the UAE had planned to attack Qatar but were stopped by former US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in an act the investigative website The Intercept said may have played a key role in his dismissal.
“I am a very angry man when it comes to Al Jazeera,” Fahmy said at the event waving his index finger.
“They are watching now and know that I am after them and will not stop”.
According to the independent magazine Josimar, the PR company Bluelight Strategies and Jaimie Fuller, whose company SKINS filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, were behind the Washington DC event.
Last year, Fuller had held a lavish event in London questioning FIFA’s decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar – a gas-rich nation in the Arabian Gulf.
According to the Guardian, Fuller “repeatedly declined to identify the main source of funding and there is no detail on the trustees of his organisation”.
Since the start of the illegal blockade on Qatar in June 2017 by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain, several events have been held in western capitals seemingly financed by Qatar’s detractors.
At one event last year, a casting agency offered actors $25 to take part in a protest in London when Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani met with British Prime Minister Theresa May.