What on earth made President Donald Trump identify Qatar – with its longstanding relationship with the US and host to 10,000 American military personnel on the biggest airbase in the Middle East – as a “funder of terrorism”? Did someone misinform him of Qatar’s role in the region? Or was Mr Trump embittered because, as Qatari businessmen are asking themselves, a real estate deal between the future US president and Qatar’s rulers fell through in 2010?
Clayton Swisher, the investigative journalist who broke the Palestine Papers story in 2011 – detailing secret talks between the Israelis, the Palestine Authority and the Bush-era US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice – says that Mr Trump and his daughter Ivanka came to Qatar seven years ago. There, he says, they approached two senior Qatari officials for investment help. One was Hussein Al-Abdullah, executive board member of the Qatar Investment Authority. The other was Sheikh Hamid bin Jassem al-Thani, a member of the royal family who was then prime minister.