By Ian Francis
As peace-loving Grenadians at home and in the Diaspora prepare themselves for the celebrations of the Yuletide season, there is an era of darkness and uncertainty that continues to haunt the Thomas administration unabated.
A few days ago former Foreign Minister Karl Hood was knocking on the doors of our local Supreme Court seeking the Court's interpretation about his recent expulsion from the National Democratic Congress (NDC). While Hood waited for Justice Lewis to open the court's precincts, there was a coalition of local business organizations headed by the Grenada Chamber of Industry and Commerce (GCIC) who bluntly described their situation to the Thomas administration as "gasping for breath".
Ian Francis resides in Toronto and is a frequent contributor on Caribbean affairs. He is a former Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Grenada and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The above was not all, as the Israel and Hamas conflict widened, Thomas's newly found friend, the Emir of Qatar, was busily engaged in putting together a Syrian opposition coalition of Jihadists, Al Qaeda operatives and other known terrorist misfits dedicated to the destruction of Israel. Friends of Grenada like the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada welcomed the Emir's initiatives but went on to strongly condemn Hamas's attack on Israel. As the record shows, both the Emir and Prime Minister Thomas have remained silent and mute on Hamas’s aggressive behaviour towards Jerusalem.
One would have thought that, given Thomas's coziness with the Emir and the recent elimination of his friend Ahmed Jabil by Israel, he would have stepped out of his dredging river and unequivocally condemned Hamas's aggression toward Israel. With such noted silence, those at home and in the Diaspora can only conclude that Thomas and his inner circle have embarked upon a foreign policy tactic of silence so the Emir will not be offended. With such silence from the Thomas administration, one can only hope that Thomas and his safari will soon head for another empty visit with the Emir.
As the economic desperation plays out in Grenada, it is not difficult to assess the futile foreign policy conduct of the administration, which is likely to plunge Grenada into deeper political crisis. From current indicators, the much touted Sandals arrival and additional airlift by American Airlines are not likely to ease the unemployment situation. Those hotel workers who were sent home following the closure of La Souce are not likely to be re-employed by Grenada before the Xmas.
On the other hand, based on emerging but unconfirmed gossip, many are saying that there is no certainty that the laid off La Souce workers will be re-hired by Sandals. With this and other uncertainties in the Grenada economy, we can only conclude that the situation is not encouraging and the bleakness will continue.
Grenada's economic desperation and diplomatic links with Qatar and other rogue Middle Eastern nations cannot be ignored. The existence of various Middle East nations is often webbed into the sanctuary of wealth and religious zealously. These nations are very well informed of Grenada's desperate economic situation; its strategic geographical location and the apparent simplicity and ineptness of those charged with the management of state affairs.
Given the three obvious factors, it should not have been a surprise that the Emir of Qatar and his entourage arrived in the midnight and woke up Thomas for bilateral discussions followed by promises of a state visit and development assistance. These two promises have yet to materialize.
Shortly after the Emir's visit to Grenada, he found himself in the Gaza region as guest of Hamas and took the opportunity to donate a few hundred million dollars to this terrorist organization. As unconfirmed rumours continue to swirl in Grenada, the Emir's arrival in Gaza could have been intricately linked to the recent Grenada visit. Rumours continue to intensify that the Emir had successfully negotiated arrangements with Grenada for certain Hamas operatives to take up residence in Grenada. These rumours have not been substantiated and it is only the trio that can honestly tell Grenadians about the discussions.
The Thomas administration should never negate the reality that when a state enters a period of economic desperation, it becomes extremely vulnerable and this could have been the case when the Emir made his midnight visit for talks with the Thomas administration. Since the cloud of secrecy continues about the Emir's visit, varying speculations and rumours will continue to hit our streets.
As the Israel and Hamas conflict continues, several known and credible bits and pieces of credible information have emerged, which require further elaboration.
• Hamas is backed by Qatar, given the Syrian conflict. Since the Hamas base comes from the Sunni and, given this tribe’s widening conflict with Assad, Hamas has been sidelined by Assad. Qatar's opposition to Assad is well known; therefore it is a timely moment for Qatar to court Hamas against the Assad regime.
• The Emir of Qatar’s recent visit to the Gaza as guest of Hamas and a generous cash donation require greater in depth analysis, which Thomas and his inner circle are incapable of making. In the current conflict, Hamas's long range missiles have landed in the heart of Tel Aviv. As rumours have it, they are Iran missiles paid for by Qatar, as Hamas does not possess such missile capacity.
• The Emir of Qatar is being accused of contributing to the current military conflict between Israel and Hamas.
Let me conclude by warning the Thomas administration that political opportunism and survival should not be seen as an affront to resolve the current Grenada economic calamity. It is unfortunate and given the short time left for completing five years in office, the time has reached when it is in Grenada's interest to abandon the Qatar affair.
Grenada is a micro-state with strong Western support, including the state of Israel. Time to stop the silence, tell Hamas to desist from their aggression and forget about the Emir. Grenada should not be drawn into this global conflict and other CARICOM nations must take cognizance of the dumb situation that Thomas and his inner cadre are faced with.
Finally, the time has come when CARICOM foreign policy coordination could be effected by telling Hamas to cool it.