Little Qatar playing the Soviet Union in our time

There is a little Twitter tiff going on because of what seems like a misunderstanding (misrepresentation?) of what Jake Tapper said on his CNN show on Sunday. The source of the misunderstanding (or, as Tapper stated, the lie) is a journalist at AJ+.

AJ+, of course, is the English-language social media-oriented arm of Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera is controlled by the government of Qatar, an authoritarian monarchy. Not only is Qatar authoritarian, but it is a very explicit caste society.

As a person of South Asian descent, I am quite aware that the United States gives me a far better “fair-go” than an of the Gulf monarchies would, including Qatar. Money is fungible, but the reality is that the funds in Sana Saeed’s bank account almost certainly derive in some way from the exploitation of South Asian laborers in Qatar.

To get a sense of Qatar, you can read this article, Lamborghinis, Burkas, Sex Party Invites And ‘Chop Chop Square’: A New York Lawyer’s 15 Years In The Middle East. It’s basically a hit piece. There’s nothing surprising or novel about the facts reported. It was probably written to satisfy our Gulf allies in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Both of these states run on exploited labor and operate as caste societies (well, Saudi Arabia less so since it has indigenized more).

Qatar’s game kind of reminds me of the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The Soviets, correctly, pointed out America racism. But, they did not shine much of a light on their own prejudices and brutality toward ethnic minorities (they literally engaged in ethnic cleansing several times for reasons of geopolitics). And, Communist anti-racism was fundamentally shallow, as evidenced by the well-known racism among the populace of the post-Communist states.

As with my post on Mehdi Hasan, my point is not to say that people getting their paychecks indirectly from the exploitation of South Asian laborers shouldn’t be able to express opinions. But, considering that they are employed by a media outfit controlled by a mildly racist and very authoritarian regime, perhaps one should be a bit more skeptical of their good faith.

I mean, if Israel is an apartheid state, what would they call Qatar?

Addendum: Also, AJ+ journalists should chill on the guilt-by-association. Their Arabia language channel platforms some really nasty people.

12 thoughts on “Little Qatar playing the Soviet Union in our time”

  1. Saudi Arabia less so since it has indigenized more

    So native Saudis are doing more of the work there? I was unaware of that, although I know there’s a marginalized Shi’ite population there.

  2. don’t know how much work they are doing. but the % of foreign ppl has dropped.

  3. They get their pay from oil and gas revenues. The exploitation of S Asian labour is driven by the recruitment agents and subcontractors from their home countries who find and employ them. Treating the weak with indifference and casual and not-so-casual brutality is normal practice in Pakistan and probably not too different elsewhere in the region. Brick kiln workers are literally treated like slaves.with children having to start work there at 5 to help service debts accumulated by the family.

    1. i’m not saying they are treated WORSE. there’s a reason people go to the gulf…

      1. Razib,

        Might it be that they are treated worse but paid better?

        UAE treats far better {My favorite part is no income tax!}. Qatar does not treat as well. KSA treats worst.


        Why not allow Israeli Palestine comments as long as they are respectful?


        I didn’t get the above controversy. To blame Fatah, Mustafa Barghouti, or more moderate Hamas people of instigating terrorism is a bit much.

        But “SOME” Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other Islamist leaders do engage in extremist rhetoric in Arabic that encourages terrorist attacks. [Without knowing Arabic grammar someone can easily learn a 1000 or more Arabic words and follow some of the emotions and themes behind Arabic sentences.]

        Why is saying this controversial? Not arguing. Trying to understand. Can someone explain this to me?

  4. Agree 100% with the criticism against Tapper.

    We’ve finally reached a breaking point (hopefully) regarding the rhetoric from the right in this country and the resulting intolerance and violence faced by minorities on the ground. Its a huge story dominating headlines, and Tapper can only talk about it by backhanding a minority (don’t conservatives find it eww that they are acting like Palestinians?).

    Also subtly playing into the myth propagated by Israel and their supporters, that Palestinian antagonism towards Israel is rooted in antisemitism rather than occupation and ethnic-cleansing. A smear which itself is used to justify violence against Palestinians (in far greater magnitudes than anything Palestinians have done to Israelis).

    1. First of all, its not a myth that Palestinian violence against Israelis is based on anti semitism, poll after poll show that this attitude is not just limited to Palestinian territories but is also common in the entire world, ask an Arab Jew, oh you can’t!!! Because they were kicked out of their homes, thanks to antisemitism in the region, which also included supporting Hitler’s policies.
      And what rhetoric are you talking about??? 90%+ of the violence faced by “minorities ” are from same “minorities “. More importantly, speech doesn’t cause violence, speech is subjective and unquantifiable by its very nature, on the other hand violence has direct and real material consequences.

  5. Israel is even worse then Qatar as it’s founding was a deliberate act of ethnic cleansing on the part of Zionists (read State of Terror by Tom Suarez.) Israelis regularly murder, torture, occasionally rape, and make life severe and nearly unbearable for Palestinians daily. Furthermore they regularly expel Palestinians from their homes and settle Jews in them.

    So Israel is worse then Qatar and it’s understandable you think otherwise-you are anti Islam and a conservative, why wouldn’t you side with those technologically advanced and civilized Jews (the ethnic cleansing is so easily ignorable ?)

    1. Razib confirmed Zionist.

      The Aryans were probably Zionists as well. IVC people were the original Palestinians. So it turns out Pakistanis are Arab after all.

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