(CNSNews.com) – Ahead of President Trump’s meeting at the White House Tuesday with the emir of Qatar, conservatives and others are urging the president to raise concerns about the purported U.S. ally’s support for terrorist and radical groups, violation of trade agreements, and other troubling behavior.
The Anti-Defamation League, highlighting the sheikhdom’s poor record on intolerance and incitement to hatred, especially targeting Jews, called on all U.S. officials meeting with Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani to raise those issues.
Qatar’s support for Iran – breaking regional solidarity – is also an issue some hope Trump will raise with the visitor.
Former Sen. Joe Lieberman, chairman of the advocacy group United Against a Nuclear Iran, told the Fox Business Network on Monday Trump has the opportunity to say to al-Thani, “It’s time for you and your country to make a choice; you can’t walk on both sides of the street at the same time.”
For two years the oil-rich Gulf state has been shunned by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, and Egypt over its close links to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, and its breaking of a regional consensus viewing Iran as a leading threat.
Yet despite Qatar’s longstanding support for Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood – al-Thani hosted Hamas leaders at his palace as recently as last month – and its sympathies for Iran, it remains a key regional partner for the U.S., hosting the forward headquarters of U.S. Central Command at the Al Udeid Air Base.
Leveraging its good relations with militants has also led to Qatar playing a facilitating role in peace efforts in Afghanistan. Doha hosts a political office for the Taliban, and is the location of ongoing U.S.-Taliban talks and separate intra-Afghan dialogue, continuing amid ongoing Taliban terrorism.
In a letter to Trump ahead of Tuesday’s meeting, the former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission, Ken Blackwell, Tea Party Patriots president Jenny Beth Martin and Americans for Limited Government president Rick Manning urged the president to be firm with Al-Thani.
‘You’ve got to keep your word’
Apart from raising concerns about support for terrorism, the conservative leaders pointed to Qatar’s ongoing subsidizing of its national carrier, which critics say violates both the U.S.-Qatar Open Skies agreement and a separate agreement between the Trump administration and Qatar last year, and puts more than 1.2 million U.S. jobs at risk.
“Once again, members of Congress on both sides have called for strong action to ensure Qatar’s compliance with these trade agreements,” Blackwell, Martin and Manning said.
“We cannot allow these nations to use loopholes to flout competition and endanger American industries,” they added. “Secretary Pompeo has rightly recognized the seriousness of this issue and has made clear that it is being looked at closely.”
“While you are meeting with the Emir, we hope you use this opportunity to raise these issues in-person and communicate the resolve of the American people.”
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Monday that despite a pledge to stop cheating with the airline-related deals it had with the U.S., “Qatar has been deliberately undercutting and acting in ways that make it impossible for a free market company to compete in the Middle East.”
Appearing on the Fox Business Network, Gingrich voiced the hope Trump would look the emir “in the eye and say, ‘Look, you’ve got to keep your word.’”
“For the future of the American airline industry, this is a very big issue,” he added.
Meanwhile the Anti-Defamation League says al-Thani’s government had “chronically fallen short” in the area of tolerance and incitement, and that “U.S. officials would be well-advised to also bring up” those issues during his visit.
Among other examples David Weinberg, the ADL’s Washington director for international affairs, cited a 2017 sermon – broadcast on Qatar state television and promoted by a government ministry – in which a preacher described Jews as a “deceitful, lying, treacherous, fornicating, intransigent enemy” who “has despoiled, corrupted, ruined and killed and will not stop.”
“In addition to carrying preachers with a record of intolerance on Qatari state TV, the state-owned international network Al Jazeera broadcasts intolerant messages from Qatar around the world,” he said.
Weinberg also pointed to the discovery this year of “virulently anti-Semitic passages in Qatari state textbooks” which he said also contained “numerous examples of anti-Christian bigotry as well as incitement against the West.”
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, in a comprehensive global study of blasphemy laws, names Qatar as one of the five countries with the world’s worst such laws (the others are Pakistan, Iran, Yemen and Somalia).