A feud between Arab countries, a settlement of accounts to conquer a privileged position in relations with Europe. While four protagonists of Qatargate are preparing to spend New Year’s Eve in the Belgian prisons in which they have been held since 8 December, the genesis of the investigation that rocked the European Parliament – and in particular the large group of the left, the Socialists & Democrats – is hypothesis.
Which start from a fact: the first to move in Belgium in the footsteps of Antonio Panzeri, a former deputy of the Democratic Party, are the local secret services. Second fact: the problems that the investigation is creating for the Qatari government, which risks seeing years of maneuvers and bribes to curry favor with the EU go up in smoke, are seen with satisfaction by the rival Gulf countries of Qatar, with test the UAE.
Protagonists in turn of years of intensive lobbing in the corridors of the European Parliament to accredit themselves as the most reliable interlocutor.
Is there a hand of the Abu Dhabi government in the explosion of the scandal? The question was raised a few days ago by the Dagospia website. Yesterday the issue was relaunched and explored by the US news site Nyweekly.com, which directly calls into question Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan, brother of the president of the Emirates and head of the local secret services. The site reconstructs the contacts that the Abu Dhabi 007 chief allegedly created both in America and in Europe, linking this network with some targeted operations against Qatar and accusing Abu Dhabi of having orchestrated the scandal to distract from investigations that were carried out in Brussels on the activities of lobbyists in the pay of the Emirates.
The hunt for the “instigator” does not call into question the seriousness of what – starting with the bags full of money – is emerging against Panzeri and the network that revolved around him, but it would perhaps help to better frame the story.
Also to understand if Panzeri’s clique was the only one moving in the corridors of the European Parliament in violation of every rule, or if other hidden lobbies were (and perhaps still are) active in the pay of other countries.
Among the coincidences supporting the hypothesis, there is the role played by the other NGO involved in the investigation, No Peace without Justice, founded by the Italian radical Emma Bonino.
The secretary general of the NGO, Niccolò Figà Talamanca, was arrested at the same time as Panzeri and the others, and two days ago the Belgian court extended his custody in prison. Exactly what the man is accused of is not known, his name does not appear in the documents against Panzeri, and his NGO – unlike that of the former Italian trade unionist – appears registered in the transparency register of the European Parliament.
But in Brussels circles it was pointed out that last June a tough report on the maneuvers of the Emirates to influence community decisions, produced by the NGO Droit au Droit, was presented by Nicola Giovannini, who worked together with Figà Talamanca on No Peace without Justice . The 150-page report analyzed in detail the bells of disinformation through the media, official and parallel reports with parties, parliaments, think tanks created by the lobby of the Emirates. A few months later, the investigation launched by the Belgian secret services on the “straight” of the Abu Dhabi services hits the NGO that presented the report. More than a retaliation, a way to divert attention? Another of the many mysteries of Qatargate.