The Qatarian debacle

There is no denying it, we sometimes take the most stupid steps, even though it was for the best intentions. Yet when we are confronted with the reality, it becomes a different thing, especially when corruption and corporations intervene. First we were confronted with the prospect of Qatar 2022, I was actually pretty happy about it. To bring the enthousiasm of Soccer into the Middle East is a good thing, it opens all kinds of dialogues between Middle Eastern nations and as Europe has one universal event in common, soccer could have become the bridge between the nations in Europe and the Middle East. That’s how I naively saw it. But it took merely a week or two until suddenly the accusations of corruption came out of the woodwork. More and more news outlets have become the ‘whores’ of shareholders and stake holders, all in fear because it wasn’t merely about Qatar, it was the fact that it would be held in winter overlapping the normal soccer season, leaving us with the clear set that clubs could not play with their stars representing the national teams. With all that advertisement opportunity gone, they are all screaming like bitches. The biggest of them (Martin Ivens) is part of this (at https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/plot-to-buy-the-world-cup-lvxdg2v7l7w), and when we see “revealed for the first time this weekend in a bombshell cache of millions of documents leaked to The Sunday Times“, the editorial has a clear duty to inform the public showing the evidence. The fact that ‘millions of documents‘ were parsed is close to impossible, but that’s going to be another story. Yet since June 1st 2014, we keep in getting more and more speculations, yet no evidence was presented. In the end, the FIFA corruption was merely parsed aside, no clear imprisonment, merely ‘a six-year ban from participating in FIFA activities‘, the corruption and the facilitation to the stake holders and shareholders have gone that far, yet no one presented clear evidence at any level to the public, partially my setting for demanding Martin Ivens that he gets the hell out of journalism.

In all this, Qatar has remained the battered victim (in this instance) and I thought it was good for those shareholders and stakeholders to feel the consequences of diminished value for a change. Yet that is not happening. Still, we see is some olive branch towards soccer by setting the news as we saw it in the Washington Post with ‘FIFA could expand World Cup to 48 teams in 2022, ahead of schedule‘, either it is a 50% bigger strain for Qatar to keep up with the changes or it collapses and the torch quickly gets handed over to another soccer nation pleasing all stake holders involved.

Yet the issue is now escalating and not in a good way, it is also not on the soccer side that things are becoming a mess. In this case it is not about the article (at https://www.thenational.ae/world/britain-warned-over-qatar-s-london-intelligence-network-1.749819), where we see the quote “A group of Arab countries demanded action from the British government to restrict an expansion of Qatar’s intelligence activities in London, including surveillance operations as well as political and propaganda activity“, I am not sure if this is actually happening, but it is one part that increases the pressures going on. The actual dangers are coming from two siders, the first is seen in Haaretz (at https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/how-qatar-is-warming-ties-with-both-trump-and-iran-at-the-same-time-1.6247714), where we get ‘How Qatar Is Warming Ties with Both Trump and Iran – at the Same Time‘, it is the Iran side that is a worry. We might take notice of an old fact given in “Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed ties with Qatar in June 2017, accusing it of fomenting regional unrest, supporting terrorism and getting too close to Iran, all of which Doha denies“, yet that is not the danger (at present). In addition we see the actions (the clever actions) from Qatar with “A review on Monday of Foreign Agent Registration Act records show that since May 31, six U.S. companies or individuals have registered new Qatari lobbying contracts with the Department of Justice. That number includes the major firms Ogilvy (which is being paid $10,000 per month) and Portland PR ($20,000 per month)“, in addition, Ogilvy gives them full access to the Commonwealth, so London (as mentioned earlier), Canada and Australia are part of the setting to change public opinion, a task Ogilvy is very good at. The second part is different, when we look (at https://en.mehrnews.com/news/135396/Iran-1st-quarter-export-to-Qatar-quadrupled-year-on-year), we see something that seems harmless enough, yet the fact that “In the first quarter of the current year of 1397 (March 21, 2018- June 21, 2018), 74 million and 61 thousand dollars of goods were shipped from Iran to Qatar, which has increased by 214 percent year-on-year“, seems innocent enough, yet it also gives us that with over $300 million of trade goods before the end of the year, a large amount of people go back and forth, which also optionally offers military advisors as well as people of the Hezbollah persuasion opportunities and now it becomes a very different game, now we have a setting that allows for the settling of units and their sole reason for playing possum the next three years is to go out with a bang in November 2022. Consider this setting against the Washington Post of April (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/hacked-messages-show-qatar-appearing-to-pay-hundreds-of-millions-to-free-hostages/2018/04/27/46759ce2-3f41-11e8-974f-aacd97698cef_story.html) where we see ‘Hacked messages show Qatar appearing to pay hundreds of millions to free hostages’, the operative word is ‘appearing’. When we see both: “with a half-dozen militias and foreign governments jostling to squeeze cash from the wealthy Persian Gulf state. “The Syrians, Hezbollah-Lebanon, Kata’ib Hezbollah, Iraq — all want money, and this is their chance,” Zayed bin Saeed al-Khayareen, Qatar’s ambassador to Iraq and chief negotiator in the hostage affair, wrote in the message. “All of them are thieves.” And yet, the Qataris were willing to pay, and pay they did, confidential documents confirm“, as well as “they appear to consent to payments totalling at least $275 million to free nine members of the royal family and 16 other Qatari nationals kidnapped during a hunting trip in southern Iraq“, there are issues that do not add up. Now consider that such a large group of dignitaries was too unprotected as well as the fact that this event did not become world news on every level!

Now we have a series of players like Kata’ib Hezbollah and Hezbollah-Lebanon ready for the next event. This they will play really clever, with $150 million ready, they have the time to prepare and truly make the beginning of Qatar 2022 go badaboom (big badaboom); Qatar gets to play the wounded victim and whatever happens will be in the news for years to come after that. The fact that this threat is actually growing and no longer unrealistic is also part of the issue now for considering the relocation of Qatar 2022 to somewhere else. That setting was not there in 2014, or not as far as I would be able to tell. What is now a given is that not only is there an actual danger here, the fact that this setting exists, is an additional threat to Saudi Arabia, if they will be able to attack the stadium as well as fire missiles on Riyadh, the stage changes as Riyadh is now a mere 449.23 Km, very much within range of several missile solutions. Tactically speaking they would come into Qatar into parts, like as spare parts for engineering equipment, most could be hidden in several ways and with $300 million in goods, the chance of finding even one part is close to impossible. They will have 3 years to assemble it all. Saudi Arabia is not alone, as this situation unfolds, we need to realise that the UAE and Abu Dhabi is a mere 200 Km away, an equally appealing target for Iran. You might think that it is not an option, yet the ‘goodwill’ that Iran bought with missiles for Hezbollah is exactly why it is an optional reality to face; it is the cost of doing business.

So, as we consider the cost of doing business we can only hope for the places like Ogilvy that if this happens that they have all the right paperwork ready for their presentations on what they facilitated for. It’s not like it might actually impact its parent company WPP plc, is it? We can only watch (and smile) from the sidelines when its £55.56 billion value starts fading like snowflakes in the summer sunshine. Should you think that I am kidding and my view is far-fetched? Consider what happens when 200 countries filled with an estimated 3.5 billion devoted soccer fans go berserk. I will be selling tickets and popcorn to that event and make a killing (figuratively speaking).

The Qatarian debacle was poorly set from the very start, it was a non-issue and whilst people filled their pockets we saw close to no concise actions against FIFA for decades. Now that the world stage, especially in the Middle East is polarising and escalating on several fields, we see that the allowed setting is becoming more than merely ‘optionally hazardous‘. The actions on several sides give a clear danger that no matter how you slice it Qatar 2022 is a clear tactical target, not only for the players, but the amount of dignitaries attending are now are set in a stage where the tiger gets offered a pound of flesh and everyone on the sidelines is considering that the tiger might be a vegetarian whilst it all gets aired in prime-time to every part of the world, you tell me who the short sighted player in that stage is.

 

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