Billions of Hush-Hush Dollars Feed Mid East Conspiracies
The decision by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain to punish Qatar for harboring terrorists and cozying up to Tehran unexpectedly exposes conspiratorial moves normally kept far from the public eye as well as the multibillion-dollar sums crisscrossing the Middle East to nourish them.
In one such case, Qatar found a vocal champion in Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan – not least because of his allegation that the United Arab Republic, which lined up with Saudi Arabia and Egypt to boycott Qatar, had invested heavily in the failed 2016 summer coup to overthrow him.
Therefore, on Tuesday, June 13, Erdogan denounced Qatar’s isolation by fellow Arab governments as “inhumane and against Islamic values” as well as being “unacceptable” and analogous to “a death penalty” for their victim.
A day earlier, the Turkish intelligence agency MIT had “anonymous sources” leak to the domestic media the charge that the United Arab Emirates had spent $3billion on the failed July 15, 2016 plot to oust Erdogan.
Mehmet Acet, a columnist for Yeni Şafak daily, quoted Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoglu as hinting at a Muslim country "spending $3 billion to topple Erdoğan and the government in Turkey," while lending support to putschists in the July 15 coup attempt last year.”
That Muslim country was the UAE, said Acet.
Other leaks by sources in Ankara claimed that “some emails allegedly stolen from the inbox of Yousef Al-Otaiba, the UAE's ambassador to the US, revealed that the UAE might have been involved in the failed July 15 coup. And, furthermore, one of those emails “was obtained by The Intercept.” It was alleged as revealing that senior counselor John Hannah of the Washington neo-conservative think-tank, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), had sent Ambassador Otaiba an article claiming that both the UAE and the FDD were responsible for the July 15 military coup in Turkey. The writer said he was "honored to be in the UAE's company.”
Then there is the case of the one billion dollars, which is still floating on a tapering course through serpentine channels, after an episode that had its beginning two years ago.
On Dec. 16, 2016, a large group of 26 highborn Qataris, including members of the ruling family, went falcon-hunting in southern Iraq, to bag the birds most highly prized by Gulf Arabs. The entire group was captured by kidnappers. To this day, neither Qatar nor Baghdad has named the hijackers. However, DEBKA Weekly’s intelligence and counterterrorism researchers have no doubt that the deed was carried out by a special Islamic State unit, which had been tipped off and lay in wait for the Qatari princes.
Their rescue took 15 months.
On a day in April 2017, a Qatari delegation arrived in Baghdad with one billion dollars for advancing to the kidnappers as ransom for the release of their countrymen. The money was left with the Iraqi government, which had offered to act as a go-between. Prime Minister Haydar Al-Abadi could not afford to name the kidnappers. He pretended ignorance of their identity to avoid the embarrassment of admitting that, while his army was fighting ISIS in Mosul, he was secretly delivering cash to the jihadist terrorists.
ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had decided to let the hostages go, because his forces had their backs to the wall on the battlefield – even though the sum that actually reached his hands had been whittled down to $250 million in cash.
The Baghdad government maintained that the balance of $750,000 was deposited in the national treasury, although Abadi later claimed that only half a billion had been received.
That, too, was not the end game of the falcon-hunting episode. It took its most bizarre turn in recent weeks when Tehran and the Iraqi Shiite militias run by Iran held out their hands for a lump sum of the ransom payment. They maintained they had duly earned compensation for fighting for the liberation of the Iraqi cities of Tikrit, Ramadi, Fallujah and Baiji from Islamic State occupation, as well as for their part in the ongoing battle for Mosul.
In this way, the Qatari ransom fund, originally destined to reach the hands of Sunni Islamic terrorists – or what is left of it – may now be diverted to the coffers of Shiite extremists.