Tony Blair’s wife and Qatar dictatorship

This video says about itself:

7 October 2013

Ahmed talks about some of the human rights abuses that are going on as Qatar prepares to host the World Cup.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Hillary Clinton lobbied by Cherie Blair to meet Qatari royal, emails reveal

Lobbying activities of Clintons and Blairs under scrutiny after emails show wife of former UK PM sought ‘women to women’ meeting with US secretary of state

Dan Roberts in Washington

Wednesday 1 July 2015 11.18 BST

Cherie Blair repeatedly pressured Hillary Clinton to meet a leading Qatari royal during her time as US secretary of state, according to newly released emails that raise fresh questions about the lobbying activities of all three political families.

The wife of the former British prime minister Tony Blair exchanged 19 emails with Clinton over a four-month period in 2009 as she sought to arrange the meeting on behalf of Sheikha Mozah, an informal but influential ambassador for Qatar on the world stage.

“Sheika Moser has approached me privately saying they are keen to get their relationship with the USA onto a more positive footing and she was hoping for a ‘women to women’ one to one private meeting with you,” Blair wrote in the first of a series of emails addressed to Hilary [sic] and released by the US state department after a legal battle to recover correspondence Clinton had stored on a private server.

After initially suggesting they shared a philanthropic interest in disability charities, Blair added: “I am sure the conversation would not be confined to these issues but would be about the US/Qatar relationship generally.”

A protracted series of followup emails then detail Blair’s attempts to seek a mutually convenient date in both women’s diaries, some cryptically only referring to “my friend from Q”.

“Great,” Blair replied to Clinton when the meeting was confirmed in principle. “When I see what a difference you are making it reminds me why politics is too important to be left to the bad people.”

Clinton’s bid for the Democratic presidential nomination has prompted close scrutiny of the Gulf state’s donations to the Clinton Foundation, which was set up as a philanthropic venture after her husband left the White House.

She has denied that such foreign donations had any bearing on her work as secretary of state, but the foundation has been accused of violating an agreement with the Obama administration to stop taking overseas money while she was in office to avoid any perception of undue influence.

The Blair family’s fundraising activities have also led to close scrutiny of their finances since leaving Downing Street, but they too stress that much of their work is philanthropic in nature.

Spokespeople for the Blairs were not immediately available for comment.

The Clinton emails, which were voluntarily turned over by the secretary of state and released this week by the state department after intervention by a US judge, also show other close links to the Blair family.

One memo from the informal Clinton adviser Sidney Blumenthal shows him acting as a go-between to persuade the secretary of state to help promote Tony Blair’s short-lived bid to become EU president.

Jonathan Powell tells me that remarks about Tony would be appreciated but that what would really be significant will be your conversation with Merkel,” Blumenthal wrote.

He also wrote repeatedly to warn Clinton of declining US relations with Britain, urging her to help then prime minister Gordon Brown repair ties between the countries or risk a still chillier reception from the opposition leader David Cameron.

“Consensus across the board in Britain – center, right, left – is that the Atlantic alliance – the special relationship – the historic bond since World War II – is shattered,” said Blumenthal.

“There is no dissenting voice, not one, and there are no illusions. Opinion is unanimous. The bottom line is that the Obama administration’s denigration of the UK is seen as the summation of the Bush era.”

CLINTON EMAILS SHOW SENIOR OBAMA STAFFERS KNEW OF PRIVATE EMAIL IN 2009 President Obama’s former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel requested the private email address in 2009. [AP]

New book, app, about birds in Qatar

This 2014 video is about birds (and a lizard) in Qatar.

Fortunately, the news from Qatar is not just poets jailed for poetry, construction workers exploited and dying, etc. …

From BirdLife:

New book and mobile app to guide people’s interest in nature of Qatar

By Ade Long, Thu, 28/05/2015 – 11:34

The Friends of the Environment Center in Qatar (BirdLife Partner for Qatar) have used both traditional and digital routes to create two guides to the nature of Qatar.

The first ever field guide book to the birds of Qatar and a mobile application – ‘Qatar e-Nature’ – which allows users to explore the rich and varied species of flora, birds and insects of Qatar on their smart phones.

“The field guide is dedicated to all bird lovers and watchers living in Qatar who are committed to bird conservation and wildlife protection,” said Dr Elsadig Awad Bashir, Head of the Qatar Bird Project, who compiled and edited both the Arabic and English-language editions of the guide.

The Field Guide to the Birds of Qatar has species accounts including illustrations for all 323 species found in Qatar. Additional information on the birds includes local names as well as their status in Qatar and regionally.

Qatar e-Nature is designed for environmental awareness and education by incorporating interactive and engaging features. …

Qatar e-Nature is available for IPhones from ITunes and for Android devices from Google Play.