Qatar’s Interests in the Russian Economy

P 20.12.2014 U Vladimir Simonov

Apparently, the Qatari sheikhs have no idea that Russia is not the Upper Volta, studded with missiles, as the United States once called us, but a great power, including in terms of economics, natural resources, oil and gas. And to think that under the current difficult conditions of sanctions, Russian companies can be bought on the cheap, is vicious logic. Even for Qataris, whose dishdasha-coat pockets and all their bags in their villas and palaces are crammed full of petro-dollars. As reported by the Iranian newspaper “Iranian Diplomacy”, competent sources from Russian diplomatic circles told the London newspaper Al-Arab, that allegedly Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al-Thani, who was the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister of Qatar until June 2013, has been trying to negotiate with Russian President Vladimir Putin that in exchange for cooperation on the part of Moscow in the fight against specific radical Islamist groups, he would buy “Lukoil” shares and thereby lift some sanctions imposed against it.

Apparently, he wants to acquire a 10% stake in the Russian company. Although Hamad bin Jassim believes that this cooperation will be fraught with certain difficulties, nonetheless, he is confident they can be overcome, if, of course, the Russian president agrees to cooperate in the fight against Islamist radicals. From this we can make a very important conclusion: Qatar’s former prime minister has a network, which has established connections with extremist associations that “purely by coincidence” carry out their activities in Russia. Through this channel he has repeatedly helped free the hostages.

In the meantime, informed sources say that in a few days it will become clear whether Hamad bin Jassim will succeed in his negotiations with “Lukoil” or not. Shortly, a meeting is to be held in London, at which the CEO of the Russian company is to discuss this issue thoroughly with Qatar’s former prime minister. With the help of one of the entities under his control, he plans to buy a part of “Lukoil” the third largest oil company in Russia. In April this year, with the help of an intermediary firm he already acquired the Heritage Oil Company worth 924 million dollars, which he has now turned into his main investment structure.

It is known that, quite recently “Lukoil” decided to sell 10% of its shares. Hamad bin Jassim had previously offered to buy the shares and pay for them either in cash, or partly with Heritage Oil company shares, however, at that time Moscow did not meet him half way. In addition, it is no secret that the signing of such a contract would require the Kremlin’s consent. The former Prime Minister of Qatar believes that he has sufficient clout for this, even though he personally was responsible for the fact that in December 2011, Moscow lowered the level of diplomatic relations with Doha after the beating of the Russian ambassador V. Titorenko that took place at the Doha airport. Besides, Hamad bin Jassim didn’t fulfil any of his promises to invest over 12 billion dollars in the Russian Federation on LNG projects, in the financial sector and mining of rare earth metals, because Qatar was greatly dissatisfied with Russia’s policy in relation to Doha’s aggressive stance on Libya and Syria, where the Qataris unleashed bloody civil wars, utilizing the most radical and terrorist Islamist groups.

According to reports, when Hamad bin Jassim learned about “Lukoil’s” senior management’s resistance to his proposal, he declared in a self-assured manner that he could convince the Russian president, by proving to him the importance of this contract, as well as the opportunities that come with it. Moreover, he announced that under those circumstances, he could also help Moscow in its fight against the Islamist groups a problem often complained about by Moscow. That is, the former Prime Minister of Qatar flaunts his connections with terrorist groups and radical elements and believes that because of this Moscow won’t be able to refuse his proposal, brokered by Heritage Oil, to purchase “Lukoil” shares.

Meanwhile, the Russian oil company’s leadership does not agree to a similar proposal by the former Qatari emir either, claiming that such a transaction will not benefit Russia’s strategy and the company itself. The company, belonging to the former Prime Minister of Qatar, does not have the modern technology that could contribute to the development of production in Russia. After retiring from the post of Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani has been actively engaged in economic activities in an attempt to establish a direct link between politics and business. By the way, he had been doing the same, when still in power, buying up real estate in Europe, hotels, shopping centers, football clubs and other beneficial assets, taking the money from the state treasury. The former emir is confident that this way, on the one hand, he can increase his influence over the economic and political circles around the world, and on the other hand to further increase his fortune.

On October 27, together with the current Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, he visited Paris, where he was trying to reach some agreements with the former CEO of “Total” – Christophe de Margerie – who was killed in an accident at the Russian Vnukovo airport, in the same month. According to many observers, the Qatari tried using the French “Total”, having many large projects in Russia, to affect the Russian oil market and at the same time to strengthen Qatar’s position in the energy trade sector.

Hamad Bin Jassim’s actions are not distinguished by diplomacy and sympathy for Russia. Destroying Russian presence in Libya, causing damage to Russian interests in Syria, financing Islamists, some of which have already started to appear in the North Caucasus, Qatari sheiks are now trying to get into the Russian economy, pretending that everything is fine, as if nothing had happened. This raises the question – what agenda is behind this? Apparently, it is prudent to weigh everything prior to engaging in any business dealings with the Qataris. We have already been there. Doha thickly spread honey on our lips, but we didn’t taste a drop, while the harm Qatar inflicted upon Russia in the Middle East has been enormous.

Vladimir Simonov, an expert on the Middle East, Ph.D., written especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.“

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