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  • Fred

All Middle Eastern Countries are the Same. (No, they're not.)

In America, the news media saturates the airwaves with news of the "1%." But what of the "1%" in the Middle East? You don't hear too much about them because they control the message in ways that are impossible to do here thanks to the First Amendment. This is not the tone I intended to start with, but it best captures what's going on in Qatar.

Qatar is in the news this week because America's President Trump called on the highest per-capita income country in the world to "stop the funding of terrorism." At face value, it appears that Trump is attempting to follow the money trail of state sponsored terrorism, which is good. But it coincides with his recent trip to Saudi Arabia, which begs the question, are we getting sucked into another Middle Eastern quagmire?

I tried, I tried so hard to figure out the dynamics between the Qatar and the Gulf Cooperation Council, which Saudi Arabia is a part. As soon as I thought I had it figured out, other layers, like international relations with Iran, crept into the mix.

If I asked you, the informed reader, what country is Al Jazeera based in, would you know that it was Qatar? Al Jazeera is partially owned and operated by the Qatari government. Not the democratically elected government, a constitutional monarchy. So one of the propaganda arms of the government is one of largest news organizations in the entire world

So President Trump is taking a hard line against Qatar? A country with a population smaller than Chicago?

What's my beef with Qatar? Soccer.

Russia was awarded the 2018 World Cup in 2010. Now there are rumors and reports that Russia bought the World Cup hosting rights, and I'm not here to debate that. If you asked me, the casual soccer fan, to make a list of 20 countries suitable to host the World Cup, Russia would be on it. So if they cheated, they were probably just better at cheating than the other cheaters. FIFA is one of the most corrupt organizations in the world.

But Qatar? They had never qualified for a World Cup. The awarding of the 2022 World Cup was so egregious that it continues baffles me to no end. They wanted to host a summer soccer tournament, in the desert, with average high temperates of 106 degrees, with no structural infrastructure, and no historical soccer presence. And FIFA said "sure." (Oh, and wire that money straight into my Swiss Bank account.)

(Editor's Note: The dates of the World Cup have since been switched to Nov/Dec.)

On the very same week of Trump's hard line stance on Qatar, I read yet another story of slave labor in Qatar building soccer stadiums. Promoting the movie "The Workers Cup," this story popped up on my newsfeed:

More than 1.5 million migrant workers live in Qatar, and they make up an incredible 60 percent of the population. When they arrive from their home countries, their residency permits are controlled by the company they work for. They cannot change jobs, quit, or leave Qatar without the company’s permission. They live in crowded, coarsely built shelters in vast camps located west of Doha....“All you think about is to get up, go to work, come back and rest,” Kenneth, from Ghana, says. “This is no life, man,” says Paul, from Kenya. “It’s like you are trapped or something.”

Now, imagine the American equivalent of the same story.

King Trump, who owns CNN, defends his use of Mexican Migrant workers, in work camps, to build sports stadiums.

...I'm not seeing that story on Al Jazeera.

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