Qatar’s embassy in Washington sponsored trip for six of the Democrats in December 2018. Two of them did not reveal about the trip, but the information got out later through a mandatory annual financial disclosure form. The Democrat members of Congress, including Democrat Reps. Donald Norcross (N.J.), Dan Kildee (Mich.), Jim Hines (Conn.), Dr. Ami Bera (Calif.), Brendan Boyle (Penn.), and Andre Carson (Ind.) flew to Doha over the weekend to attend the annual Doha Forum and meet with members of the Qatari regime.
Interestingly the social media accounts and the websites of these representatives had no mention of the trip. No information was shared on their Twitter or Facebook accounts and even nothing on their Congressional websites. The information regarding the clandestine trip got out due to Qatari state media, Al Jazeera’s reporting and a Twitter post by Ben Smith, the editor of BuzzFeed, who co-sponsored the Doha Forum.
On December 15, Smith wrote on his twitter, “Half dozen congressional Democrats in Qatar, Saudi archenemy, today for the #dohaforum: @DonaldNorcross @RepDanKildee @jimchines @RepBera @RepBrendanBoyle @RepAndreCarson”
The trip seemed like a bargain deal by Qatar to create a strong pro-Qatar lobby in Washington, to create a convincing cover up, when needed, for its illegal activities including money laundering, human trafficking and funding terror outfits.
These congressmen hold sensitive positions in US, which made it important for Qatar to please them through its money and win their opinion. Carson and Himes sit on the House Intelligence Committee. Bera serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Norcross serves the House Armed Services Committee.
Speakers at the Doha Forum included President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s son-in-law, and current Turkish Finance Minister Berat Albayrak; Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif; and Mutlaq Al-Qahtani, Al-Qahtani, who is Qatar’s counter-terrorism envoy, told the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) last year that Hamas was not a terrorist organization.
It is not the first time that Qatar used its power, wealth and influence to enhance its global image. In 2017, Qatar spent nearly $5 million on three Washington lobby firms seeking to improve its image. According to the watchdog site Open Secrets, Qatari entities, including Barzan Holdings, Qatar Tourism Authority, Education Above All Foundation and Qatari businessman Hassan bin Ali spent $13 million overall for all of 2017 on behalf of the regime. They spent $9.3 million in 2018.
Qatar and the US were good allies and Qatar even hosts a US air base, Al Udeid. Recently things changed when the Qatari regime took strides away from its partnership with the US and instead realigned with hostile regimes such as Iran and Turkey. Qatar still likes to believe and show that it is a US ally, while its loyalty lies somewhere else.