The time has come to stop doing business with Qatar unless it turns over Hamas officials residing in its country and stops pouring money into Hamas's coffers.
Hamas's main office is in Doha, where its leader, Ismail Haniyeh, leads a life of luxury. He watched Hamas's Einsatzgruppen-like October 7 assault in his office there while prostrating "in gratitude." Two weeks ago, Haniyeh met with Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian in Doha.
It was from Doha that Haniyeh's predecessor as Hamas chief, Khaled Meshaal, called for the governments and people of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt to join the war against Israel.
Meshaal also resides in Qatar.
Qatar has provided $30 million a month in aid to Gaza since 2018. Didier Billion, deputy director of the French Institute for International and Strategic Advisors, has said, "These payments are justified to pay civil servants in Gaza, and we know perfectly well that the latter are members of Hamas. Doha's money is therefore the equivalent of direct support for this organization which has held the Palestinian enclave with an iron fist for many years."
After Hamas's recent massacre, Qatar issued a statement that Israel was "alone responsible" due to "repeated raids on the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque."
Given such evidence, it is undeniable that Qatar is openly on the side of Hamas in this war.
American financial firms, however, have formed deep relationships with Qatar over the years, particularly its sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA).
For example, Bill Ackman's Pershing Square Capital Management. QIA invested $141 million in its 2014 IPO. A 2017 submission to the UK Financial Conduct authority indicated that QIA owned 4.56 percent of Pershing Square Holdings Ltd.'s Net Asset Value.
As of April 14, 2023, QIA beneficially owned 7.4 percent of Apollo Commercial Real Estate Finance Inc., a fund of Marc Rowan's Apollo Global Management. This made QIA the third-largest shareholder, after only BlackRock and Vanguard. On August 29, 2023, it was reported that QIA had bought New York City's Park Lane Hotel for $623 million, of which Apollo Global Management provided $400 million of financing.
In June 2023 it was reported that QIA would buy approximately 5 percent of a firm owned by private equity firm KKR. David Petraeus, a partner at KKR and chairman of the KKR Global Institute, spoke at the Qatar Global Forum in May of this year.
Paul Singer's Elliott Management acquired the IT firm Gigamon together with QIA in 2017, though Elliott was recently reported to be exploring a sale of the company. Elliott also reportedly expressed interest in financing the purchase of English soccer club Manchester United. One of only two potential buyers was Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani, though news reports indicate that Sheikh Jassim has since withdrawn his bid for the club, and no deal for the club has been announced.
Blackstone's Stephen Schwarzman met with Bandar bin Mohammed bin Saoud Al Thani, chairman of the Qatar Central Bank and QIA, earlier this year. In 2021, Schwarzman spoke at the Qatar Economic Forum. QIA holds approximately 8 percent (€375 million) of Blackstone Secure Lending Fund.
QIA provided $375 million in financing for Elon Musk's acquisition of Twitter, now X. Other firms that have done significant business with Qatar include Steve Mnuchin's Liberty Strategic Capital, Jared Kushner's Affinity Partners, Monumental Sports and Entertainment (owner of the Washington Wizards, Capitals, and Mystics), Atlas Merchant Capital, AlTi Global, Inc., and Project Black, LP (the PE fund of Ariel Alternatives LLC).
While visiting Qatar, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said firmly that "there can be no more business as usual with Hamas."
The same must go for Qatar.
Qatar has amply demonstrated that it is a state sponsor of terrorism by openly hosting Hamas leaders, proving Al Jazeera to be their mouthpiece, sending billions of dollars to Gaza (thereby effectively writing a check to Hamas), and blaming Israel exclusively for Hamas's murderous invasion.
The types of investments, transactions, and financial relationships illustrated above with Qatari state financial institutions can no longer be acceptable.
U.S. firms must divest from Qatar (and all states that support Hamas) and stop doing business with Qatar. U.S. authorities should freeze all Qatari assets in American financial markets. Anything less signals a willingness to do indirect business with the murderers of Hamas.
Gregg Roman is director of the Middle East Forum.