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In Rafah, Contempt for Qatar

PUBLISHED: January 16, 2009

I had an interesting conversation with a representative from the Palestinian Authority yesterday at the Rafah border terminal. He asked not to be named, but what he had to say was in such broad circulation that it doesn’t really belong to one person anyway.

The man was from the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Social Affairs, and he was from Fatah, the party of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. He said that all of the aid pouring in from all of the Arab countries isn’t really to help the people of Gaza, but rather to keep Hamas in the fight.

The man held special contempt for Qatar, a country he suspects of desiring Saudi Arabia’s position in a new world order headed by Iran. Iran needs a strong Hamas to keep Israel locked in a retrogressive cycle of wars and militarism. Qatar wants Iran to lead the Middle East into the twenty-first century and wants to ride Persian coattails to an increased share of authority in regional politics, especially as they relate to the global energy market.

Interesting perspective—but take it with more than a few grains of salt. The man also echoed something I’ve heard often, something that flies in the face of regional neighbors’ phlegmatic statements: “Egypt is the only country that is helping the Palestinian people.”

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