November 2013        

The unseemly rise of Qatar

Three years ago it was announced that the tiny Gulf emirate of Qatar would host the 2022 World Cup. This was despite the fact that Qatar has only 250,000 citizens, does not have the infrastructure to host such a tournament, and has an unbearably hot climate.
     The awarding of the World Cup to Qatar was a result of the widespread corruption within football’s governing body, FIFA. But, most importantly, Qatar’s rulers had made a statement of intent to the world.
     Qatar is an energy-rich dictatorship with delusions of grandeur. It is a close ally of both Saudi Arabia and the United States. Its huge reserves of natural gas have allowed the regime to become a regional power. The capital city, Doha, has become crowded with ultra-modern skyscrapers. The Al-Jazeera Network was founded here in 1996 to distribute the regime’s propaganda to an international audience.
     The Qatar Investment Fund is buying up businesses around the globe. The regime has also squandered a fortune on vanity projects, such as buying the Paris Saint-Germain football team, and is now planning to spend $200 billion on hosting the World Cup.
     More sinisterly, Qatar has been financing extremist jihadist groups fighting in Syria, and it played a major role in the imperialist coup that ousted Gaddafi in Libya.
     The Qatar regime relies on the exploitation of more than a million immigrant labourers from countries such as India for constructing its infrastructure and maintaining the luxurious standards of living for Qatar’s elite. It is estimated that four hundred migrant labourers die in Qatar every year, working in conditions that are akin to slave labour. This figure is expected to increase as the building of infrastructure for the World Cup steps up. Workers are enticed to Qatar on the promise of high salaries, but their contracts are destroyed on arrival, their passports are seized, and they are forced to live and work in miserable conditions.
     The regime treats many Qatari citizens appallingly too. Women’s rights are almost non-existent, and there are strict laws against the LGBT community.
     Like Saudi Arabia, Qatar is often able to escape international condemnation for its atrocious human rights record because of its alliance with the United States. The Qatari regime collaborates with imperialism to control international energy prices. Also, Qatar is helping to destroy the Arab nationalist states, or any progressive groups that block the advance of imperialism in the Middle East. If a country that was not aligned with the interests of imperialism committed human rights abuses like Qatar there would be an outcry among liberals and Amnesty International types.
     The awarding of the World Cup to Qatar is the most tangible signal of the growing influence of this malign regime. But Qatar’s financing of reactionary Islamist groups throughout the Arab world is the biggest danger to the people of the region. If there is ever to be democracy and liberation in the Middle East, then the brutal Gulf dictatorships need to be smashed and the people allowed to liberate themselves from imperialism so that they can develop their resources for the common good.

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