What will it take for us to stop doing business with Qatar?

On 17 June, a meeting of the Henry Jackson Society, held in the House of Commons, discussed (according to the minutes published on the society’s website) how a tribal elder in northern Cameroon who runs a car import business in Qatar has become one of the main intermediaries between kidnappers from Boko Haram and its offshoot Ansaru and those seeking to free hostages. It was alleged that embezzlement of funds going to Qatar via car imports might be disguising ransom payments. It was also alleged that Qatar was involved in financing Islamist militant groups in West Africa, helping with weapons and ideological training, and (with Saudi Arabia) funding the building

If we won’t talk to John Cantlie’s captors, then why not have Qataris to do it for us?

It is a horrible thing to say, but I suspect that sooner or later we will begin to get irritated by the John Cantlie Show. Mr Cantlie is the British photojournalist who is being held captive somewhere in Syria by the maniacal and barbarous Islamic State. He has delivered two video lectures of a geopolitical nature, and we should assume that he delivers them under not only duress, but out of a very terrible fear too. However, he is fluent and very calm, insisting that the views he espouses are entirely his own. These amount to a castigation of the UK and the USA for refusing to do some sort

What is to be done about a world where everything is for sale?

Next time you read about an auctioneer’s gavel coming down on a $150 million painting bought by some flunkey representing the ruling family of Qatar, don’t ooh or aah, but think of those monsters in Iraq and Syria who have their children pose on video while holding up the severed heads of innocents. And no, it’s not a stretch — without Qatar’s gold Islamic State would not exist, not even in the movies. Let me put it another way: had Calvin Coolidge or Herbert Hoover given White House dinners for Al Capone, the outcry would have been heard all the way down to Patagonia. Yet, as reported in these here

You can’t make friends with Uncle Sam and survive for long

Can somebody tell me when America last got it right? Uncle Sam’s track record in selecting leaders in faraway places reminds me very much of my own where libel is concerned: plaintiffs 5; Taki 0. Let’s see, the good Uncle overthrew Mohammad Mosaddegh in Iran back in the early 1950s in order for the Shah to become his man in Persia. The Shah went gallivanting in St Moritz, threw very expensive parties in Persepolis and spent money like a Saudi camel driver-turned-prince on American weapons. But once the Shah became a pariah, the Home of the Brave chickened out. The Shah became Shah who? Only Henry Kissinger admitted knowing him

How dare they sell the beaches where I played as a child

 Porto Cheli Nothing is moving, not a twig nor a leaf, and I find myself missing the cows, the mountains and the bad weather. The sun has become the enemy, a merciless foe who can be tolerated only when swimming, something I do for close to an hour a day. Nothing very strenuous, mind you, except for an all-out 50-stroke crawl towards the end. For someone who has swum every year since 1940, I’m a lousy swimmer. Not as bad as Tim Hanbury, who swims vertically rather than flat on the water, and who resembles a periscope, but I’m no Johnny Weissmuller, the late great Tarzan of the Forties. From

Now even Fifa’s dinosaurs have learned to cry racism

Are all white women really prostitutes who should be avoided, as some children at those schools in Birmingham were apparently informed? This is obviously a delicate, if not rather fraught, area and one should tread carefully for fear of giving offence. I have given the matter a lot of thought and have tried to fashion a sort of middle way, amenable to both sides in the debate. So, while everyone might agree that white women are to be avoided wherever possible, it seems to me to be overstating the case to characterise them all as prostitutes. I am not even certain that one could reasonably describe ‘most’ white women as

Did anyone really think that Qatar won the World Cup fairly?

I suppose the appalling shock to the soul that was occasioned by the allegation that Qatar bribed its way to hosting the 2022 World Cup was exceeded only by the startling suggestion that it was Fifa’s African delegates who trousered nearly all of the illicit money on offer. Who’d have thought, huh? The money was doled out by the Qatari crook Mohammed Bin Hammam, according to leaked emails obtained by the Sunday Times. Mo did not find bribing the Africans terribly difficult, it would seem. My favourite of the various requests for money from these venal and grasping and not terribly bright Third World panjandrums was that of a chap

Is Hamas finally losing its grip on Gaza?

 Gaza City Tattered green Hamas flags still flap above the streets in central Gaza and posters of its martyrs hang in public spaces. But these are tough times for the Hamas government, and not just due to the recent flare-up in tensions with Israel. In December last year, they cancelled rallies planned for the 26th anniversary of their founding, an occasion celebrated ever since they seized power here in 2007, and though usually secretive about their financial affairs, they revealed a 2014 budget of $589 million, with a gigantic 75 per cent deficit. So, what’s gone wrong for Hamas? Just a year ago, it seemed to be enjoying a honeymoon

The end of snow? Not in Gstaad

 Gstaad The American newspaper that prints only news it sees fit to poison good things recently announced ‘The end of snow’. ‘The planet has warmed 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit since the 1800s, and, as a result, snow is melting…’ Bring on the Pulitzers, snow melts! The Big Bagel Times also thundered that Europe has lost half its Alpine glacial ice since the 1850s — yes, the 1850s, when private jets ferried people such as Abe Lincoln around America, Otto von Bismarck polluted German resorts in his supercharged Mercedes-Benz, and young Taki steamed around the Med in a 100 mph speedboat powered by black slaves. Well, I for one don’t believe a

What I learned in a Qatari jail cell

This column nearly didn’t appear. Another 24 hours and I would have trumped the late Jeffrey Bernard with the single sentence ‘Rory Sutherland is in prison.’ Having just spent a day in jail or police cells in Qatar for using an electronic cigarette on a plane, I thought I would just write one piece of technological advice for any Spectator readers who might find themselves in a similar situation. Sit down today, take out your mobile phone, and memorise four or five important phone numbers. Better still, delete those few important numbers from your phone so you are forced to dial them from memory. Because when you’ve been arrested and

When I played softball for Esquire, against Screw

Al Goldstein, who died recently and made the front page of the New York Times, was among the world’s most disgusting men. But hardly as repellent as Charles Saatchi and certainly without the coward’s bullying manner — against women, that is. Goldstein founded Screw magazine during the Sixties and pushed hard-core porn into the mainstream without the usual excuses of it being art disguised as porn, or vice versa. He apologised for nothing and took no prisoners and gave the finger to an outraged establishment who thought him rather vulgar, to say the least. I met him once and it was on a baseball diamond. Back in the Seventies there

Taki: our leaders are weak and powerless in the face of religious fanatics

This Christmas our thoughts need to be with our fellow Christians who are being threatened in the Bible lands. No ifs or buts about it, they are being told either to join the Sunni-led opposition to Assad and renounce Christianity or die. After decades of protection by a secular-leaning dictatorship, Christians are being given ultimatums by the Saudi-financed jihadists and face a very dark future.  There has already been Christian cleansing in Syria, especially in Homs, where 90 per cent of the Christians have fled the city for Assad-controlled areas near the Lebanese border. In Iraq things are not much better. Cities such as Mosul and Tikrit, Saddam’s home town,

Righteous indifference and how to fight it.

Last week I wrote in the Observer about Qatar’s treatment of the hundreds of thousands of migrant labourers, who will build the stadiums and hotels for the 2022 World Cup. They were dying at a rate of one day. They had to cope with inhuman conditions and labour laws that treated them as serfs by giving employers the power to break contracts and stop them leaving the country if they complained. The absolute Qatari monarchy ran a kind of apartheid system, I said. It denied rights it granted the natives to poor workers from Nepal and India. If the image of the old South Africa did not appeal, I offered Sparta

ANOTHER media failure. How does Tina Brown get away with it?

Gstaad Why are hacks scared to state the obvious? In Britain the excuse is the strict libel laws. But in America? To win a libel case over there one has to prove malice aforethought, and I don’t know many journalists who would admit it and go down the Swanee. Take the case that has been hogging the headlines lately, that of the 2022 World Cup and its Qatar venue. Qatar gets rather hot in the summer, hot enough to kill an athlete exerting himself for glory and the root of all envy. Rob Hughes, a respected football commentator, calls it ‘not a responsible thing to do’. He writes that a

Godolphin drug affair

Working partnerships don’t always bring the results expected. I heard lately of a 12-year-old girl encouraged to spend a day on work experience with a relative in the building trade. After a day sorting correspondence, tidying files and making cups of tea on demand, young Emily returned home with a crisp ten pound note. Her proud mother took her down to the building society to open a savings account. ‘Well done,’ said the lady on the till. ‘And will you be working again next week?’ ‘Oh, that all depends,’ said the child, ‘on whether the sodding bricks turn up.’ This column was to have been devoted to our Twelve to

In Cyprus as in Britain, the prudent must pay for others’ folly – but not like this

The Cypriots are the authors of their own misfortune, having turned their banking system into a rackety offshore haven for Russian loot and lent most of the proceeds to Greece. But it was madness on the part of bailout negotiators to shake confidence in banks across the eurozone by trying to impose a levy on deposits held by even the smallest Cypriot savers, in what was presumably an attempt to cream off a layer of ill-gotten foreign cash. And even if the proposal has been radically watered down by the end of the week, we now know the European powers-that-be are prepared to pull this device out of their toolbox