Monday, March 10, 2014

Threats to Close Brookings & RAND in Qatar

Saudi Arabia is furious at Qatar for its ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, and reportedly wants Qatar to expel two prestigious think tanks - Brookings Doha Center (BDC) and the RAND-Qatar Policy Institute (RQPI) - from the country.

Here are some more specifics:
Saudi Arabia has threatened to blockade its neighbouring Gulf State Qatar by land and sea unless it cuts ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, closes Al Jazeera, and expels local branches of two prestigious U.S. think tanks, the Brookings Doha Center and the Rand Qatar Policy Institute.
The threats against the television station Al Jazeera, Brookings Institute and the Rand Corporation, were made by the Saudi Foreign Minister Saud bin Faisal in a foreign minister's meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Riyadh last week, according to a source who was present. Bin Faisal said only these acts would be sufficient if Qatar wanted to avoid "being punished."
News of the threats to shut down the Brookings and Rand Corporation think tanks in Doha will embarrass the U.S. president Barack Obama, who is due to visit Riyadh at the end of month. His Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker was in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, where she told AP that she will tell officials from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar that closer economic cooperation with Washington is a bridge to building deeper security ties.

On December 31, 2013, according to RAND's website, Qatar Foundation and RAND "wound up" the  RQPI partnership.  It says, however, that RAND "remains active in helping policy leaders throughout the Greater Middle East think broadly, plan systematically, and execute ideas effectively."

Here is more on RQPI and other think tanks in Qatar.  Here is more from the launching of RQPI in 2003.

RAND, of course, still has the RAND Center for Middle East Public Policy (CMEPP).

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post titled "Brookings Slammed for Qatar Connection.Here is a link to the BDC.

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post about various Qatari think tanks (including BDC and RQPI) appearing in Wikileaks documents.  One of the cables notes that Brookings and RAND opened shop in Qatar at the Qataris request.

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post titled "Qatar Buying Influence at US Think Tanks?"

The Brookings Doha Center was just rated as the second best think tank in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), only behind Egypt's Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.  RAND-Qatar Policy Institute was rated as the 16th best think tank in the MENA region.  The Al-Jazeera Centre for Studies (in Qatar) ranked as the 6th best think tank in the MENA region.

Qatar has 10 think tanks, according to the recently released University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.  Saudi Arabia has seven think tanks.