PHILADELPHIA – February 9, 2024 – Milstein Writing Fellow Benjamin Weinthal's reporting on Texas A&M University's dangerous research agreement with Qatar has helped push the university Board of Regents to close its Qatar campus (known as TAMUQ) by 2028.
Texas A&M is one of six American universities with all-expenses-paid campuses in Qatar, the major funder of the U.S.-designated terrorist organization Hamas. The others are Carnegie Mellon, Cornell's Weill Medical College, Georgetown, Northwestern, and Virginia Commonwealth.
Weinthal quoted a report by the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism & Policy (ISGAP) asserting that "Qatar has acquired full ownership of more than 500 research projects at Texas A&M, some of which are in highly sensitive fields such as nuclear science, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, biotech robotics, and weapons development." He added that the Qatar Foundation, controlled by that country's ruling al-Thani family, "owns all intellectual property developed at TAMUQ."
Mark Welsh, Texas A&M's president, began with a full-throated defense of the university's Qatar campus, dismissing Weinthal's reporting on Jan. 31 with "That's insanity. That's irresponsible." On Feb. 1, he quickly conceded that "any concerns that have been expressed I think are fair concerns."
On Feb. 8, the university's board voted 7-1 vote to shutter its Doha campus. Welsh followed this with a statement the same day listing only domestic reasons for the move, saying that "this decision was made after thoughtful discussion about the need to focus the university on its land-, sea- and space-grant mission."
But in a statement released Feb. 8 by Texas A&M (and reissued Feb. 9 by TAMUQ), the board attempted to deny that outside pressure forced it to pull out of Qatar: "The Board of Regents decided to reassess the university's physical presence in Qatar in fall 2023 due to the heightened instability in the Middle East. Thursday morning, Regents discussed the topic with Welsh and other top administrators in executive session."
This sleight-of-hand omits that Qatar-supported Hamas's attack on Israel caused that "heightened instability." And that the board back then deemed it insufficient reason to end its presence in Qatar. In fact, external pressure – ISGAP's report, Weinthal's report – forced Texas A&M to make this major change.
Qatar Foundation responded on Feb. 9 by blaming Texas A&M's decision on a "disinformation campaign aimed at harming" its interests. "At no point," it lamented, "did the Board attempt to seek out the truth from the Qatar Foundation before making this misguided decision."
"Texas A&M's decision to cut its ties to Qatar is long overdue," observed Weinthal on hearing the news. "For twenty long years, it gave advanced technological and scientific research to a government whose public support of Hamas terrorists enabled the Oct. 7 massacre."
"U.S. national security is endangered when universities put financial gain ahead of national interests," added Campus Watch director Winfield Myers. "The five other American universities with Doha campuses should take notice and immediately terminate their agreements with Qatar."
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