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Experts: US Support for Hamas Office in Qatar During Obama-Era Led to Negative Consequences

According to experts, the establishment of a Hamas office in Qatar during the Obama administration was a misguided attempt at appeasement that ultimately backfired. Richard Goldberg, coordinator for the Trump administration’s campaign on Iran, stated that the belief that the office would moderate Hamas was disproven on October 7th. He argued that allowing Qatar to support Hamas has resulted in high costs and that the US should reverse its policy.

Qatar’s Ambassador to the US, Meshal bin Hamad Al Thani, claimed that the establishment of the Hamas office was done at the request of the US in order to facilitate communication between the two parties. He also stated that the office played a role in mediating conflicts between Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Credits: DepositPhotos

The US State Department acknowledged that Qatar is an influential actor in the region and that it has been working with Qatar to secure the release of hostages held by Hamas. However, the department emphasized that it condemns Hamas’ acts of brutality and that there can be no more business as usual with the group.

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Since its establishment, the Hamas office in Qatar has played a role in securing the release of hostages and brokering ceasefires. Last week, Qatar announced an agreement that resulted in the release of 50 hostages and 150 Palestinian prisoners.

While it is confirmed that the US requested the establishment of the Hamas office, experts differ on the level of US support for it. Some argue that the US merely supported the office’s establishment, while others believe that the US saw it as an opportunity to enhance its relations with Qatar and strengthen its role in the Middle East.

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Credits: DepositPhotos

Following the October 7th attack on Israel, attitudes towards the office and Qatar’s role have changed. Qatar is now in crisis management mode and there will be an effort to salvage the value of the office going forward.

Experts recommend that the US seek an end to the Doha office and use its leverage with Qatar to do so. Suggestions include allowing American victims of the attack to sue Hamas and relocating the US air base out of Doha. They argue that the US has other options in the region and should not feel stuck in Qatar.

Despite criticisms, Ambassador Al Thani argues that Qatar’s role in the conflict has been constructive and that it has been the target of a disinformation campaign. He emphasizes the importance of open channels of communication for lasting peace.

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