Hamas’s political office in Doha was established over a decade ago in coordination with the US, and following a request from Washington to establish channels of communication.
Sheikh Meshal Hamad Al-Thani, Ambassador of the State of Qatar to the US, has pushed back calling US Senator Mike Lee “misinformed” after he accused Doha of having “blood on its hand” for harboring Hamas leaders.
The Senator of Utah, wrote on X: “Qatar has blood on its hands. President Biden should demand that Qatar arrest Hamas leaders and seize their assets.”
The Republican senator called on the Biden administration to warn Doha of consequences if it refuses to comply.
“He should make this demand every day—twice on Tuesdays—at least until every hostage has been safely returned. If Qatar refuses, there should be consequences,” Lee wrote on his personal account on X.
The Qatari ambassador to the US responded to Lee on X, saying: “It’s a shame, Senator, that you are so misinformed on Qatar’s role, which has now helped save many hostages, including some American citizens.”
“Qatar has been and will continue to be a strong ally of the United States. I’m happy to meet and educate you further on this in person,” the Qatari ambassador added.
Clarifying that communication between Doha and Hamas was established in coordination with the US to promote regional stability, Al-Thani later wrote: “As I’ve stated before, the channel with Hamas was established in coordination with the United States, and has been used by several administrations to promote peace and stability in the region.”
The Qatari ambassador’s clash with a US official on the issue of Hamas leaders in Doha isn’t the first. Al-Thani had a similar exchange with Republican Ted Budd on the issue earlier this month.
The lawmaker criticized the Gulf country for hosting Hamas, while at the same time, negotiating for the release of hostages held by the resistance group in the Gaza Strip.
“For weeks, Qatar has claimed to ‘be close’ to negotiating a deal for the release of hostages held by Hamas—including American hostages. How long will Qatar continue to host terrorists with American blood on their hands?” Budd wrote on X.
Al-Thani wrote back, informing the senator that the US government had itself set the communication channel between Qatar and Hamas.
“Senator, as I explained to you when I met you last week, the channel with Hamas was established in Qatar at the request of the US to maintain open lines of communication. We are focused on the negotiations and working hard with all sides to help release more hostages safely,” the Qatari Ambassador responded.
Despite an ongoing backlash from US officials, the Biden administration has continuously thanked Qatar for its instrumental role as a mediator between Hamas and other governments.
Upon facilitating the hostage deal in Gaza, which aims to release 50 Israeli hostages in exchange for 150 Palestinian prisoners (a number disclosed by Hamas and not Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Biden praised the Qatari government for its efforts.
“I thank Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani of Qatar and President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi of Egypt for their critical leadership and partnership in reaching this deal,” read a statement from the White House.