Washington’s defense of its unipolar world is becoming increasingly difficult for the White House, and it is accompanied by growing opposition from Russia, China and an increasing number of supporters of a multipolar world order. Under these circumstances, Washington is desperately trying to demonstrate what little still remains of its influence on the suppression of any initiatives towards autonomy by less influential states.
The US is also keen to include Qatar, despite its recognized weight in financial circles and amongst energy suppliers to the world markets, in the ranks of such states. In addition, Washington demands total subordination from Qatar because after placing there its largest military base, which is of particular strategic importance to the US in the Middle East region, it does not intend to risk its existence and security.
The choice of Qatar was not a coincidence, also against the background of the recent struggle of the United States for global expansion, where the key focus of Washington has been on the “gas war” with Russia, which together with Qatar is the leader among the states with the largest explored reserves of natural gas.
Moreover, the policy of forcefully taming Qatar did not begin today – suffice it to recall June 14, 2017, when the US initiated a blockade of Qatar.
To make Qatar more amenable to US demands today, especially in the context of Washington’s anti-competitive struggle for the European gas market, the latter has been using the various tools at its disposal. One of them has been a major campaign initiated by Washington to discredit the country in the West as the host of this year’s FIFA World Cup. Qatar has been accused of allegedly exploiting migrant workers in the construction of stadiums and other 2022 World Cup facilities, violating the rights of women and LGBT communities, problems with democracy and even the detrimental environmental impact of powerful air conditioning units in new stadiums. The US Department of Justice has stated that Qatar was allegedly involved in corruptly inducing FIFA delegates to select that country as host of the 2022 World Cup, which Doha and FIFA have vehemently denied. In a number of European countries, notably Germany, France and Spain, obligingly trying to demonstrate their vassal allegiance to Washington, individual cities have refused to show World Cup matches.
By blatantly interfering in Qatar’s internal life and disregarding the religious, cultural and moral values of the emirate, the West, under the pressure of US President Biden’s demented love of sexual minorities and the LGBT community, has turned the World Cup in Qatar into an LGBT provocation arena. And this has been rightly pointed out by many media outlets. Once again, Germany and its Minister of Interior, Nancy Faeser, were ahead of the game when she came to the match against Japan wearing the rainbow armband “One Love,” which, however, did not help Germany to beat the Japanese team.
Numerous experts have admitted that among the main reasons for the US pressure on Qatar for the 2022 World Cup was the emirate’s pursuit of a gas policy independent of Washington on the international stage and its support for Russia on key issues.
Washington’s critical perception of Qatar became particularly acute this spring, when, following demagogic statements by the US President about his alleged guarantees for European energy security after the West cut off the Russian gas valve, Doha showed no vassal loyalty and refused Germany to increase LNG supplies there. Moreover, an attempt in March by Robert Habeck, head of the German economy ministry, to negotiate with Qatar to replace Russian gas with Qatari gas was more than unsuccessful, as Italy, and not Germany, began to receive Qatari gas.
Finding itself in a highly embarrassing position vis-à-vis Berlin, Washington increased its pressure on Qatar to supply Germany with LNG through the US company ConocoPhillips and signed two 15-year agreements recently. With a total supply of up to 2 million tons (about 2.8 billion cubic meters) a year, LNG will be shipped from 2026 to the future German LNG terminal in Brunsbüttel, Germany. However, despite Germany continuing to refuse to sign long-term gas contracts, the agreement in question is still a long-term one, although in this case the gas will be traded by a US company on the German market. However, it is noteworthy that, first, the gas will not be delivered for another 4-5 years until Germany has built the necessary capacity to receive and process LNG. Second, the announced annual gas supply of 2 million tons corresponds to just 3% of Germany’s pre-crisis gas needs and is exactly the same amount that was previously supplied to the German market via Nord Stream in just 15 days. The heavily promoted deal by Washington is therefore little more than a PR stunt to convince the Western public of the alleged “power of Biden to secure Doha’s gas deal with Berlin.” It has been glossed over that Germany does not have the right to divert gas to other markets on its own under this deal, and that Berlin will buy it through the Americans, at a higher price.
Nor does Washington promote the kind of concessions it was forced to make in order to get Doha to agree to an agreement to supply Germany with additional gas from 2026. And the price for this was the US Department of State’s approval of the possible sale to Qatar of the FS-LIDS drone countermeasures system and other equipment worth $1 billion, as well as a promise to favorably consider Doha’s request, made over a year ago, for the supply of four US MQ-9B Predator attack drones for $600 million to strengthen the emirate’s own defense capabilities. This decision by the US Department of State is noteworthy because a number of US lawmakers have previously spoken out against arms sales to Qatar in connection with its recent conflict with neighboring Persian Gulf countries.
Although Washington has made some concessions with regard to Doha, while continuing to manipulate international public opinion on Qatar during the 2022 FIFA World Cup, it clearly intends to secure the emirate’s loyalty with regard to substituting Russian gas for the European market “to save its face.” This becomes particularly relevant for the White House today amid Europe’s awareness of the United States’ double game and its role in the EU’s energy and economic crisis, and growing criticism of US policy.
Valery Kulikov, political expert, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”