Clifford Smith: Hello, everyone. This is Cliff Smith. I am the Washington Project director of the Middle East Forum. Thanks for joining us for a special roundtable discussion of what I have called in a recent article, "The Problems of America's Frenemies and Hamas," basically Qatar and Turkey. The issue is this. The horrific events of October 7th have focused, for understandable reasons, on two main bad actors, Hamas and Gaza themselves and perhaps some of the surrounding areas as well as Iran, which arms and supports Hamas in financial ways, in arms, and in other methods.
And this is true, and it's very convenient to discuss it in these terms because there is very little support for Hamas or Iran or the regime in America and even the international community in a larger sense. Hezbollah, or excuse me, Hamas is deemed a terrorist organization by many countries. It is internationally isolated. Iran is similarly isolated and somewhat cut off from other parts of the world. But things get more complicated once you get past this point, because Iran is not the only major state sponsor of Hamas.
Turkey and Qatar are both major supporters of Hamas. They harbor their leaders. They hold political offices. They have political offices in those countries. And it is not too much to say that without the support of Turkey and Qatar, it is highly unlikely Hamas would be the force it is today, certainly not in its current form, and thus both Turkey and Qatar are complicit in the events of October 7th and they have continued to defend Hamas even in the aftermath.
Indeed, it was just this week President Erdoğan explicitly, openly, publicly said that Hamas was not a terrorist group and basically defended them and their mission. What makes this uniquely difficult is they are both allies of the US. Turkey is a NATO ally. Qatar is a major non-NATO ally. That was a status recently given. And this really creates a problem.
Here to discuss this with me today is Endy Zemenides of the Hellenic American Leadership Council, Jordan Cope, the Middle East Forum's Qatar finance fellow, and also joining us is Jonathan Spyer, an Israeli who is also the Middle East Forum's director of research. So this'll be a roundtable discussion for about 25 minutes and we'll take your questions. You can type your questions in the Q&A box. We'll get to as many as feasible. Anyway, in the meantime, thank you all, gentlemen, for being here, and looking forward to the rest of it. For starters, let's just start with Endy. Endy, what does Turkey do to support Hamas, and how does its support matter to this wider issue?
Endy Zemenides: Well, and I want everybody to pay attention this weekend because, actually, this weekend is Turkey's centennial. And instead of celebrations of Turkey's centennial, they're going to host massive pro-Hamas rallies. Turkey has been described as Hamas's second-largest base of operations after Gaza. Istanbul is clearly Hamas's funding capital, its finance capital, according to Shin Bet. And when you think of all these Hamas operatives moving around so easily, well, how do they do that? And they're doing it with Turkish passports too. So the funding, the training.
I think when the history is written on October 7th, there's going to be proof of Turkish, at least, knowledge, if not involvement. Let's remember the Turkish foreign minister was the intelligence chief of Turkey. He helped Hamas grow in Turkey. So they facilitate the movement of Hamas. They facilitate Hamas's purchase of rockets, all this infrastructure, all this weaponry, and that's something that everybody who keeps calling Gaza an open-air prison needs to answer for. Well, if it's such an open-air prison, how do they get all these weapons in there?
Turkey facilitates all of that. And clearly, it's giving Hamas its greatest moral support. And I'm sure Jordan could talk about it. We're seeing tremendous pressure in Qatar reacting to this pressure. Turkey is getting the same pressure. But instead of reacting and saying, "Let's use our influence with Hamas," they're saying, "Hamas is not a terrorist organization. It's a mujahideen, national liberation group." I'm quoting Erdoğan on this. But I think the biggest problem is, Turkey is basically a terrorism financing operation for Hamas.
Clifford Smith: And keep in mind, if anybody wants to discuss some of these things, anybody can discuss it, but we thought we'd start with one from each of you. And that takes us to Jordan. Jordan, Qatar is probably the biggest bankroll of Hamas and it's the harbor of Hamas and other radical Islamist movements. You want to explain how this works and why Qatar is doing this?
Jordan Cope: Qatar bankrolls Hamas. Perhaps it's the largest financier of Hamas today. It might have even outpaced Iran. So between 2012 and 2021, Qatar gave approximately 1.8 billion US dollars to Hamas. And since 2021, it seems to have escalated its funding from what it previously was to approximately $360 million a year according to some estimates. So Qatar, like Turkey, not only offers safe haven to Hamas operatives in Turkey, they have actually coordinated and planned attacks from there in previous years.
In Qatar, the head of Hamas's leadership, Ismail Haniyeh, has a safe haven where he operates there. Qatar has acknowledged that Hamas has an office in Doha from which it operates. And in previous years, Hamas officials have hosted conferences in broad daylight in hotels such as the Sheraton and the Four Seasons. And so, ultimately, when it comes to Qatar's relationship with Hamas, it's one that is very fond of Hamas, one that offers it safe haven and funding, and allows it to continue its efforts.
Iran, by contrast, gives Hamas $100 million a year. Recent estimates, as I've mentioned before, estimate that Qatar's financing actually outpaces that of Iran, and yet Qatar remains a non-NATO major ally of the United States while Iran remains a sanctioned state sponsor of terrorism. So a lot's going on, and it's not just through financing and through safe haven, but through state-sponsored media through which Qatar ultimately helps enable Hamas's cause, such as through its Al Jazeera station, which has previously referred to Hamas's dead as martyrs, including the former bomb maker for Hamas, Yahya Ayyash. So Qatar remains front and center when it comes to support for Hamas. Not just sustaining Hamas, but for garnering support for it worldwide.
Clifford Smith: John, you want to discuss a little bit how this works in terms of Israeli diplomacy, Israeli military operations, and how this wider dynamic affects Israel as it is now open war with Hamas?
Jonathan Spyer: I think in this regard, Turkey and Qatar are two very different cases, because first of all, Israel has no formal and has had no formal diplomatic relations with Qatar. There was a representative office opened during the period of the Oslo peace process and then closed down at the start of the Second Intifada. So the relationship there is informal in its nature. Qatar, as Jordan pointed out, has been the major financial supporter of the Hamas enclave in Gaza, pretty much from the moment of that enclave's inception in 2007.
But it's interesting to note that that relationship moved on to a formal and Israeli-approved level after Operation Protective Edge in 2014 and essentially up to October 7th of this year. Qatar was providing around, running a sum of $30 million per month to Hamas enclave in Gaza with the approval of and indeed with the facilitation of the government of Israel.
This, of course, was all part of the now-defunct but very significant Israeli strategy in those years, in which it was thought that Hamas could be, on some level, tamed, that Hamas' rule in Gaza would continue, and that Israel could find a way or another to work around that, so to speak. That's all over, of course. And to some degree, I think it's correct to say that it was that policy, that strategy at the highest level that kind of cleared the way for the complacency that then led to the blindness that then made October 7th possible.
So in that regard, one would expect the Israeli attitude and stance towards Qatar to change now very rapidly. However, it appears to be the case that Qatar, in the way that it kind of tends to be able to do, has now kind of inserted itself once more into the issue of the 220 Israeli hostages held in Gaza. And just a couple of days ago, Israeli National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi tweeted out a tweet, only in English, not in Hebrew, praising Qatar for the positive role it was playing in the humanitarian issue of the hostages.
So Qatar once more appears to be continuing to succeed in playing this double game. Some analysts have likened it to an arsonist who also tries to play the role of a firefighter, who first of all sets fires and then comes along and says, "How can I help you?" and puts them out. And it appears, in the evidence of recent days, that role has not yet ceased to be, and Israel appears to be willing, ill-advisedly in my opinion, to be allowing that role to continue. Thus, with regard to Qatar, a couple of words on Turkey just to introduce the point.
Turkey, of course, has had formal and, once again now, does have formal diplomatic relations with the State of Israel, and these have had their ups and downs over the years. We've just, prior to October 7th, come out of a very long down period in which relations were basically, to all intents and purposes, cut after the Mavi Marmara incident, the incident in which an NGO strongly linked to the Turkish government took part in the sending of a ship seeking to illegally enter Gaza waters, which was then apprehended by Israel with the loss of lives of some Turkish citizens.
Just about a year ago, just over a year ago, full diplomatic relations were restored. Some people were talking about a new chapter in Israeli-Turkish relations. I was very skeptical about that, as the Middle East Forum was and many others were, because we're aware of the fact that this is essentially an Islamist government in Turkey. Unlike as regards Qatar, there are kind of ideological links between the Turkish AKP, the ruling party, and the Hamas organization. They are branches from the same tree. The tree is that of the Muslim Brotherhood movement.
So Turkey has an Islamist government and it has offered very active backing short of arming Hamas, but nevertheless domiciling an active Hamas office in Istanbul, which, as Endy pointed out, has, there is proof to indicate, taken part in the active planning of terrorist operations, including, back in 2014, for example, the kidnap and murder of three Israeli young men who were murdered, and that was the trigger for Operation Protective Edge in 2014. So a very active link.
As we know, the Turkish government operates also through NGOs, İHH, the so-called humanitarian wing, but SADAT also, the paramilitary organization. And these organizations have much more direct links, including practical, active links to Hamas enabling the Turkish government to kind of play the role of saying, "Well, we are not taking part. We're a legitimate government." But these guys very strongly linked to Turkey are openly linked also to Hamas.
I think Endy pointed out the statement made by President Erdoğan in recent days describing Hamas as a mujahideen group, a liberation group. I think that speech marks a new chapter in Israeli-Turkish relations, basically back to square one, back to where we were after 2010, in which, absolutely predictably, Erdoğan, when it suited him to do so, reverted to Islamist type, reverted back to the Islamist leader that he is, and is now seeking to fan the flames of conflict between the Islamic world and Israel.
So we're back very much to where we were prior to the so-called rapprochement, brief rapprochement between Israel and Turkey of a couple of years ago. So those are just a couple of remarks, some remarks on each of those relationships, and I'm sure we can delve further into any of those elements as the discussion continues.
Clifford Smith: Go ahead, Endy.
Endy Zemenides: I'd just like to highlight something that Jonathan reminds us of properly. Turkey and Hamas are offshoots of the same. AKP in Turkey and Hamas are offshoots of the same movement, which is the Muslim Brotherhood. Erdoğan sees himself, and I think the region very much sees him as, the top of the pyramid in the Muslim Brotherhood, and that also explains why Turkey, besides its bad relations with Israel, had horrible relations over the last decade with Egypt. Sisi's overthrow of Morsi was taken personally by Erdoğan.
And even his moves for rapprochement, whether it's with Egypt or Israel or Greece, right now were born of economic dire necessity and because the US finally, or at least some in the US, started holding Turkey accountable, for example, by holding off F-16s and other weapons sales. That's not only because of the S-400s. It's not only because of Sweden's... Remember though, the weapons holds were even before Sweden's accession. It was a signal that Washington was getting fed up with Turkey.
But Erdoğan has decided his economic needs are not as pressing as playing to the street. The lesson in a forum we did with you in person in the Middle East Forum, we said that the winners of Turkey's election was Turkey's nationalist movement. Again, on the weekend of Turkey's centennial, it's not Kemal Atatürk's nationalism. It's this new blended Islamo-nationalism, and that he decided, with municipal elections coming back in Istanbul and Ankara, and we know how much Erdoğan prioritizes and wants to get Istanbul back, that he's going all in on this Islamo-nationalist card, and that's what we're witnessing right now. He is the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood movement in 2023.
Clifford Smith: I just wanted to note the irony that the country that Israel does not have formal ties to was funding Hamas with the de facto support of the Israeli government while the one that it did have diplomatic relationship was doing things outside of its relationship, which is just strange. But anyway, there's much more to cover and we only have so much time. Let me ask one other question that sort of begs to be answered, and anybody can jump in here. But as we already mentioned, the other big state sponsor of terrorism, or of Hamas in particular, is Iran. Do you want to discuss Turkey and Qatar's relationship with Iran and what that means? Anybody?
Jordan Cope: I would like to discuss something that Jonathan mentioned as well about the Turkey-Qatar relationship before I begin about that of Iran, because it does appear Turkey and Qatar do act in concert at times. The Qatari state-affiliated Eid Charity actually gave millions of dollars to the Turkish Islamist organization that Jonathan referred to earlier, İHH. And so, not just that, but through the media. Oftentimes, the media agenda, talking points overlap between Qatar state-sponsored Al Jazeera and Turkey state-sponsored TRT World. Both frequently, at least over time, have accused both Israel and India, in one way or another or of at least platform stories, accusing those countries of settler colonialism, of genocide, and apartheid.
And so, at the end of the day, both of them do act in concert. And even at the Doha Forum in 2022, the opening moderator was actually a moderator from TRT World in Qatar who introduced the Emir, is a very interesting dynamic. Now, going to the relations between these two countries and Iran, Qatar, during the Arab Spring, ultimately was a friend of Iran's, landing its planes after it got boycotted effectively by much of the GCC and Egypt. Qatar actually would land its planes and use Iranian airspace.
So there was a relationship throughout much of this time and it was one that was hotly contested by much of the rest of the GCC. So there's always been that interesting dynamic. Iran obviously has a very different ideology at hand compared to Turkey and compared to Qatar. Turkey and Qatar support Islamist movements and are generally grounded in ideology that ultimately comes from the Muslim Brotherhood. Iran, instead of supporting Sunni Islamism, supports Shia Islamism and revolutionaries throughout much of the Middle East.
Both of them have advanced [inaudible 00:18:35] capacities, but they do find some overlapping interest when it comes to some causes they agree with, which is the destruction of Israel and support, in essence, for Hamas. Iran differs and goes on its own way when it comes to sponsoring Hezbollah. And so, when it comes to understanding these relationships, it's important to understand that Turkey and Qatar generally have not supported regional isolationism.
When Qatar was boycotted, Qatar had ties with Iran, and Turkey spoke out against Qatar being isolated and boycotted by the quartet, the Saudi, the UAE, and Egypt. So I think that's just an interesting dynamic to understand. They don't always overlap. Turkey and Qatar oftentimes have a more similar ideology and agenda, but they do find some common ground with Iran when it comes to ultimately promoting Israel's destruction.
Jonathan Spyer: Two points, if I may, on Qatar and Iran. Firstly, we should remember, obviously, Qatar's geographical position, very, very close by Iran, and its sharing of the massive natural gas field, the North Dome/South Pars field. So probably any government running Qatar would seek to not get too much on the wrong side of Iran for simple geopolitical reasons, and this Qatari monarchy certainly lives up to that.
A second point is, which Jordan made mention, with regard to the issue of Sunni versus Shia political Islam. Traveling through Hezbollah-controlled South Lebanon in 2007, a year after the Israel-Hezbollah War, I was struck by the amount... I expected to find and did find billboards announcing the role of the Islamic Republic of Iran in rebuilding Hezbollah-controlled South Lebanon. I was struck by the presence of a number of massive billboards announcing reconstruction projects financed by Qatar with a picture of the beaming Emir Hamad of Qatar at that time.
Qatar is also involved in a relationship with Hezbollah. We know about the relief and reconstruction element of that. Benjamin Weinthal also of MEF and myself have done some reporting over the last year or so trying to look into indications that elements in Qatar... Once again, not necessarily the official state, but elements leading up to members of the Qatari royal family also have a more direct relationship with Hezbollah, up to and including the financing of arms purchases by Hezbollah as well.
So Qatar also has a deeply murky and deeply negative role, less of which is yet known about, more of which needs to be researched with regards to practical assistance to the Lebanese Hezbollah as well, and the Lebanese Hezbollah, of course, being a direct franchise of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps of Iran.
Clifford Smith: Endy, you want to speak to that.
Endy Zemenides: I want to add something that the guys did not, the overall regional dynamic. Jordan talked about Qatar and Iran during the boycott. Let's remember Qatar and Turkey. Turkey sent troops to Qatar to defend, and Turkey keeps cashing in on that chip, especially when it really needed money. A lot of money came back from Qatar to help Erdoğan in his reelection and the credit swaps and the rest. But let's remember what was attacked on October 7th. It wasn't only Hamas and it wasn't only Israel being attacked by Hamas. For all of those disingenuously calling for a ceasefire and for peace right now, they conveniently neglect to mention that for a decade, Israel was in several peace processes. Several.
I focus on the Eastern Mediterranean. Jonathan, you may be able to comment mostly. If somebody told you 20 years ago there would be such a tight trilateral between Greece, Cyprus, and Israel, you would've called BS. If somebody told you there would be something called the EastMed Gas Forum in Egypt with Egyptians, Israelis, Jordanians, Greeks, Cypriots, Italians, French, Americans, and Palestinians making joint decisions, you would've called BS. If somebody told you the Abraham Accords and Negev Forum, the IMEC, the India-Middle East-European Economic Corridor starting in New Delhi, passing through Israel, ending up in Greece.
All of this was a road towards peace, which should lead to the question, who is really serious about peace, even when we're talking about Israel and the Palestinians? And I think we should all review, everybody should review what Yasser Arafat said no to in Camp David in 2000. But the attack was on this: What Turkey, Qatar, and Iran have in common in all the institutions that I just mentioned, all the peace-building initiatives, they were on the outside looking in. They don't want that to happen.
Iran doesn't want anything to happen in the Greater Middle East without it having a say. Same with Qatar. Turkey doesn't want anything happening in the Caucasus, in the Eastern Mediterranean, or the Middle East without it having a say. They attacked that era of collaboration and cooperation as much as they attacked Israel. They want a wider regional war. They do. They want it because they don't want the next step in Negev or Abraham Accords.
And that's why it's imperative that I will tell you, one, it's hard to envision how we have a meeting anytime soon of the Abraham Accords. Let's be honest about that. But you know what we could have? We could have the 3+1. We could have Greece, Cyprus, Israel, plus Blinken. Antony Blinken has not yet had a minister-level 3+1. Mike Pompeo did. Right? Those are three democracies. They are three democracies that have all affirmed and supported Israel's rights to defend itself. And I think we need to start showing the contrast between the democracies and non-democracies in the region.
Clifford Smith: We're about to get to questions. We've got a couple in the box. If anybody wants to go more, please. We'll get to them very shortly. We'll ask one more question before we get to those though. The US, as we pointed out, has a close relationship with Turkey and Qatar. What can the US be doing to get Turkey and Qatar to change direction? Are there diplomatic fallouts of that? So on and so forth. Anybody want to speak to that?
Endy Zemenides: Well, the F-16s, the issue of the F-16s should include what Turkey is doing in the Middle East. It should not be tied. We should not give away that defense relationship cheaply. We've lowered the bar to, "Hey, even if you discuss Sweden's membership in the Parliament, maybe we give you the F-16s." Sweden can and should be integrated in NATO no matter what Turkey does. Turkey should realize that its privileged place in the US military procurement system is dependent on it being a real ally, and it will not be compartmentalized.
I also think there should be hearings. The discussion about Turkey's ties with Hamas should be very open. Today, an hour before we spoke, I think Treasury sanctioned Turkish officials and others. I think Jordan can speak to that in detail. There should be no quarter for Hamas, no matter where it is. Turkish banks should have to face potential exclusion from the SWIFT system if they're banking Hamas. And then finally, because Senator Rick Scott brought it up yesterday, and it's hard to do, but he says Turkey's NATO membership should be reconsidered.
We can't kick out Turkey from NATO because Turkey has a veto on its own expulsion, but what we can do is ask for hearings to talk about where Turkey and others, like Hungary, for example, fall short of the expectations and the obligations of a NATO member, and maybe other hearings, like at the Helsinki Commission. Chris Smith has been great at doing these types of hearings. To say if Turkey was a candidate country today, would it be eligible for NATO? Spoiler alert, the answer is no, but we should have this conversation openly.
Jonathan Spyer: I'd like to add just a couple of things. Just literally two sentences with regard to Qatar here. Look, it's important to really stress the following. We've been discussing the Qatari relationship to Hamas, but it's important to bear in mind this relationship is part of a much more larger pattern of Qatari behavior of support for destabilizing movements and individuals across the region, going back to the domiciling of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the architect of the 9/11 attacks, and taking in the relationship to Afghan Taliban, domiciling of Afghan Taliban, right at the time when they were engaged in insurgency, not against Israel, but against the United States of America in Afghanistan.
So this approach is broad and deep of Qatar, and I would say it's a strategic interest of the United States simply to challenge this, to say it is not acceptable for a so-called non-NATO ally, which also is, of course, the host of the largest US air base in the region, Al Udeid, to be also one of the most active supporters of terrorist and destabilizing movements across the Islamic Middle East. And Qatar needs the American relationship. Qatar needs Al Udeid. Qatar needs American protection.
So the Americans, the United States has a very, very strong hand to play once it begins to, I guess, switch the disk, so to speak, and understand that this strategy that Qatar has been pursuing is absolutely unacceptable and absolutely destabilizing. I think the first thing is to understand, and Israel needs to as well, to understand the nature of that approach, and then possible countermeasures, in a sense, line up themselves because Qatar is dependent in many ways on the relationship with the United States.
Jordan Cope: The United States does wage a lot of influence over Qatar. If we remember what happened to Qatar during the era of the boycott, it was very much isolated, and it wasn't the only period that Qatar faced isolation in the Persian and Arabian Gulf. If we remember the coup in 1995 when Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani assumed the throne, Qatar was very much isolated back then as well, and it's very much probably on the internal conscience of Qatari leadership that they do fear isolationism.
And so, over time, they've effectively used soft-power efforts to prop up the means of influence that they have both in the region and beyond. And they've also helped forge ties with the United States through contributions to American universities, $5 billion of such, effectively since the 1980s, allowing Al Udeid base to be there, through billions of dollars of weapons sale, trades with the United States over the years. The US needs to ultimately let Qatar realize that it cannot continue to finance terrorism and Islamist insurrections as it did throughout the Arab Spring.
Qatar needs to be reined in, and the US needs to realize that, ultimately, it needs to stop empowering Qatar by giving it opportunity time and time again to intervene in these mediation roles. That time and time again have come back to bite America in the back, whether it be through helping restore the Taliban to rule in Afghanistan, whether it be just about a month ago when Qatar helped promote a captive exchange between the United States and Iran that would have ultimately channeled $6 billion towards Iran.
Geopolitical expert Richard Goldberg ultimately noted at the time that this would create a precedent for more American hostages in the future, and here we are now after the Hamas massacre on October 7th with Americans in Hamas captivity. And so, Qatar should not be able to dictate to America what its terms are. And right now, it should not be able to dictate to India effectively... Many of you may have been aware of the eight former naval officers in India that have just been sentenced to death by Qatar supposedly for spying on Israel. The charges seem rather spurious to some, and it's definitely one of concern.
But Qatar continues to wage much influence, for the tiny country that it is, and one that promotes unstable insurrections and one that promotes an Islamist agenda. What America ultimately needs to do is to rein in on the weapon sales. It needs to threaten Qatar to ultimately realize that if it does not stop its terrorism financing, it will end up on our designated terrorist list as a state sponsor of terrorism.
We need to be aware of all of Qatar's soft-power plays that it ultimately tries to pursue, whether it be through sports, through sports sponsorships, whether it be through the media, through American universities, through military trade, through its airlines, Qatar Airways, which remains one of the world's most premier airlines. We need to be more conscious about this. And Turkey has learned from Qatar, I believe, over time to a degree about Qatar's soft-power efforts.
And hence, we see Turkish Airlines, over time, having assumed a more present role in social media and in advertising. And so, I think these are just some things to consider, but America also needs to realize that its military bases in Turkey and Qatar definitely endanger American interest because it forges our dependency upon these two countries that haven't proven true allies to the United States.
Clifford Smith: Let's get to some of the questions now. David Levine asks, "It's well known that Hamas leaders have found safe haven in Qatar and Turkey," I would like to add. "What is the likelihood that if things escalate in Gaza, Israel could actually attempt to assassinate Hamas leadership in Qatar or Turkey?" I will just say one thing that has not gotten enough attention that shows how incestuous some of this is.
Ismail Haniyeh, one of the heads of Hamas, as everybody knows, has been residing in Qatar. Hazem Haniyeh, his son, was a resident in Turkey until he met his demise in Gaza in recent weeks after the fighting started. So he went back and forth between the two, just to say that. Anyhow, yes, a Wrath of God-like event on these countries, how likely is this, and what would the fallout be?
Jonathan Spyer: I would assume that this is quite possible. I think it's even likely that the Israeli capacities that have been on display famously in so-called Operation Wrath of God, but also in other contexts as well, including with regard to Hamas in the past, famously the attempted assassination, or the assassination rather of Mohammed Mabhouh of Hamas in Dubai just around a decade ago. So this is one of the tools in Israel's arsenal, and that's been used already in the past also with regard to Hamas, also in different sites in the world.
And I assume it's very possible or even probable or even likely that that will be one of the things Israel will be operating during this war and also subsequent to it. We know also that Israeli intelligence is active both in Qatar and indeed in Turkey, and I think it's very, very possible that actions of this kind will be taken. The fact that when Defense Minister Yoav Gallant describes the Hamas leadership as dead men walking, then I think we should not assume that's purely a metaphorical turn of phrase, and this, I think, is quite likely in the period we're now seeing opening up.
Jordan Cope: I would like to add one thing, and that is, if there's any lesson potentially from America's efforts to try to hunt down Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in Qatar in the past, it's been reported by some that the Qatari officials ultimately tipped off Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and allowed his escape. Whether that actually happened or not is up to dispute, but it's something to consider for Israel if it is to go in and how much it can rely on the American-Qatari relationship to ultimately reel in these people.
Clifford Smith: Eric asked, "Can you please talk about Qatar's relationship with American universities?"
Jordan Cope: Yes. The Qatar Foundation has ultimately been at the forefront for the Qatari state for financing educational efforts throughout much of the world. Excuse me, not throughout much of the world, throughout the United States. And so, Qatar is effectively giving dollars to US universities since the 1980s. Some of the biggest beneficiaries have been Georgetown, Texas A&M. Northwestern, I believe, actually has a partnership with the Al Jazeera Network, the same news network that once hosted a birthday party celebration for Hezbollah terrorist Samir Kuntar.
And so, in regard to universities, Qatari influence has definitely been expanded through money. Qatar has helped establish Education City in Doha, which now houses branches of several American universities, I believe Northwestern, Texas A&M. I think Cornell has a medical school there, Virginia Commonwealth University. And so, there's quite a few universities that have received significant funding. And even the Emir himself actually happened to speak at Georgetown during the midst of the Arab Spring.
And so, it definitely seems that there is interest in having some influence in these universities. It has allowed the Emir to at least speak to one of them in the past face-to-face with students and to convey the Qatari narrative at a time it was very pivotal. And so, it remains suspect, I guess, the depths of Qatari financing today, because it has been a bit spurious and suspect and a bit secretive in the past. And the question is, how much more will be revealed in the future?
Clifford Smith: There's a related question that I will actually answer. Jeff Billerman asks, "Does pro-Hamas, pro-terrorism bias shown in recent years have anything to do with Qatari aid?" I'll answer that because I've actually been looking at this a little bit. The short version is we don't know, I don't think. The longer version is, however, due to some of the factors Jordan was talking about, it's a good question. You have seen, for example, a professor at Northwestern's Qatari campus, which you mentioned, openly float conspiracy theories that no women and children really died in Hamas's attack, which is just absurd. NPR canceled a nationwide program due to his comments on that.
And given that right now, technically, universities are supposed to disclose how much money they get from foreign universities, but it is basically unenforceable as the law is currently written. And even when they're supposed to disclose, they're supposed to disclose very little. Basically just, "We got the money." You don't have to say who got it. You don't have to say what it's for, what conditions are on it, things of that nature. Totally not something the law requires. A bill, by an amazing coincidence, just got introduced in Congress in recent weeks that would increase the fines for not disclosing the amount of money and require significant disclosure of what the money is for and what it does and who controls it. So, hopefully, that will continue on. And we have several questions about-
Endy Zemenides: By the way, Cliff, that's something we all have to prioritize. It's Qatar. It's Confucius Institutes by China. We can look at a lot of Turkish institutes, which were established, by the way, when Turkey was an ally. But you see, when Erdoğan purged everybody, he got rid of moderate secularists. We see how Erdoğan has shifted the funding of Turkey for stuff.
America's adversaries are trying to conduct a hybrid war, and they're using our universities. This is not conspiratorial. It's there. It's out in the open. And frankly, sunshine is the best disinfectant. So that legislation is a must. If Congress can agree on one thing, it's got to be this. We've got to know who's spending money, especially when we see what our students have become.
It's one thing to say, "Yes, I'm pro-Palestinian." That's one thing. To say Hamas was justified to attack... When we see Jewish students barricaded at Cooper Union, this is outrageous, and it's just too coincidental that it's happening in conjunction with these huge spends by America's adversaries.
Clifford Smith: There are several questions concerning Turkey and NATO and people asking, "Can Turkey be removed from NATO?" The short answer is no, not really. There are theoretical ways, but for all practical purposes, no. However, that sort of leads to a question: Internally, in NATO, is there anything that can be done? Endy mentioned congressional hearings and such. But internally, is there anything in NATO that can be done to minimize the benefit they get out of it and to keep their influence at a minimum?
Endy Zemenides: Well, absolutely. First of all, you can isolate them even within NATO. You can do exercises out of its area that Turkey is not part of. And if you really want to antagonize them, really include Greece and areas outside of the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean. You can show less reliance, and this is something very important for the United States. You really need to start relying less on and drawing down at Incirlik. You have to develop multiple alternatives.
Steven Cook wrote a report years ago for Council on Foreign Relations called Neither Friend nor Foe, and he said, "You can split up what you wanted Incirlik for and use Romania and Greece and Cyprus and Jordan." So anything that lets you keep them out of being a necessary player. But there are fundamental parts of NATO you can't even meet, have the North Atlantic Council meet, unless everybody is on the same page. So you may have to do some kind of ad hoc coalitions, especially when it comes to Sweden, but you can isolate them. And the number one part is, make sure. They know that they will not be armed.
Let's take the F-16s for example. Right? We need to get the United Kingdom on the same side that, "If we're not giving them F-16s, there's a reason. So don't go and give them Typhoons." Okay? We need to get NATO all on the same page. Germany has to understand that, "No, don't give them submarines unless they really start acting like..." It's not Russia that has made Turkey problematic. It's our own allies and our own government here in Washington, D.C.
They've been so obsessed with "don't lose Turkey" that they're letting Turkey play both sides against the middle. So Washington, Brussels, Berlin, London have played the carrot card only, and I have no problem with offering the carrots, but make the sticks clear. It should not be carrots only.
Clifford Smith: Any last thoughts before we wrap this up? All right.
Jonathan Spyer: I guess just a one-liner regarding Israel, just to reiterate what I said before, that for Israel and also for the United States, there needs to be a paradigmatic shift here. Once it is understood that the countries we've been discussing are de facto state supporters of terrorism, whether defined or not as such, much of the policy stuff we then discussed in detail kind of falls into place by itself. But it's that paradigmatic shift that so urgently, I think, needs to take place, very much so in Israel as well as in the United States.
Jordan Cope: And if I may just add one quick sentence on that, I do think in Israel in the last week, in the UN at least, through Gilad Erdan, the ambassador to the UN, we have seen, to some degree, a definite shift on Israeli opinion towards Qatar realizing the danger that it poses. And so, I definitely agree though with Jonathan's comments. There needs to be a paradigmatic shift and it needs to happen now.
Clifford Smith: All right. Thank you very much, everyone. Really appreciate it. Come back next week for more webinars on Middle East topics, and thanks to all my guests. I'll see you later.