A former top RAND Corporation geopolitical expert says Qatar did pay a $1 billion ransom to release a hunting party that included members of Qatar’s royal family who were kidnapped in Iraq back in 2015. However, the funds never reached the kidnappers. In an exclusive interview with RiskHedge, Dr. Theodore Karasik, a senior advisor with Gulf State Analytics and the former director of research for the RAND Center for Middle East Public Policy, says the $1 billion was intercepted by the Iraqi government and the funds remain in their hands.
“The Qataris were kidnapped,” describes Dr. Karasik, “and a much broader deal began to develop between Al-Nusra, Iran, and Qatar about the release of the royals and allowing safe passage for extremists to come out of a particular part of Syria known as the four cities area—and this was known as the Four Cities Agreement. The Four Cities Agreement took place and a billion dollars was paid to the kidnappers, who turned out to be a Shiite militia in the south of Iraq. The Iraqi government managed to grab that ransom and is now sitting on it today.”
In the interview, Dr. Karasik also outlines the latest developments in the diplomatic crisis sweeping the Gulf region between Qatar and her Arab neighbors—Saudi Arabia and the UAE, in particular. He says Qatar has been preparing for this crisis since 2014 and today are acting on long-planned contingencies. “[They are relying] on Turkey, Russia, and Iran for food supplies and other necessities as these three countries come to Qatar’s backing,” says Dr. Karasik. “This is a very interesting development that may spell the end of the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] as we know it.”
Watch the full interview with Dr. Karasik above.