January Cover Story - Qatar's Role on World Stage

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Rory Coen asks a number of global political writers to articulate their views on Qatar in light of how the country has come into the spotlight in the last 18 months...

Text of January Cover Story - Qatar's Role on World Stage

Qatar's role on the world stage:diplomatic gameplay54 Qatar todayjanuary 2012


holding centre stage

pg: 54

director of the brookings doha center and fellow at the saban center of middle east policy at the brookings institution, washington d.c.

by sAlmAn shAikh

Qatars source of araB springs

pg: 56

is the director of the media programme at the gulf research centre -university of cambridge.

by khAled hroub

Qatars prominent gloBal position widens circle of stakeholders

pg: 58

founder, partner and director of cornerstone global associates, london

by ghAnem nuseibeh

Qatars role in liBya and Beyond

pg: 60

a leading publisher of geopolitical news and analysis.

by sTrATfor,

Qatar takes the opportunity

pg: 62

Qatar made the seemingly impossible possible when the country bagged the 2022 FiFa world cup. it was the attitude that anything is possible iF you have the will and the money, that was the heart oF this achievement, cnn had reported. that was in 2010. 2011 has been eQually eventFul. Qatar was the First country to recognise the libyan rebels, the First to close its syrian embassy, and also a country that came down hard on the yemeni president to step down. it was also the First gulF country that asked un member states to listen to the voice oF reason and respond to the legitimate reQuest For a palestinian state with Full membership at the un. moving From Football legacy to world peace, Qatar has indeed carved its name on the regional stage taking a strong stand on each oF the arab revolutions. Qatar today invited experts From around the world to say what they think about the country and its steep rise to recognition? is it accepted as a power player on the global peace agenda or is it merely the clout oF resources that makes the country take steps that are seemingly impossible?

managing editor of geopoliticalmonitor.com and a geopolitical analyst

by zAchAry fillinghAm ,


discLamer: the VieWs eXPressed inside the coVer story is that of the indiViduaL authors january 2012 and the magazine is not resPonsibLe for the same.

Qatar today 55

Q ata r ' s r o l e o n t h e wo r l d s tag e : D i p lo m at i c G a m e p l ay


Centre stage

By any measure, 2011 has Been a remarkaBle year for Qatar. not only has it seen rising economic growth and prosperity at a time when much of the world faces economic downturn, But it has also risen to gloBal prominence By playing an important role in the changes that are sweeping the region. its successful Bid to hold the footBall world cup in 2022 has Become Just one in an array of landmark events throughout a year that has seen Qatar firmly estaBlish itself as an actor on the regional and gloBal stage.56 Qatar todayjanuary 2012

Coverstoryn a year when much of the Arab world, including its traditional leaders, has been in transition with revolution in Egypt, pending succession in Saudi Arabia, turmoil in Syria, and Iraq struggling to forge a new identity and state Qatar has played an important leadership role in the regional affairs. The perception of a power vacuum in the region has been sharpened by a narrative of declining US influence, with many foreseeing the first cracks in the Pax Americana that has held sway since the first Gulf War. Qatar quickly championed the cause of Libyans fighting to overthrow Muammar Ghadaffi after 41 years of dictatorial rule. If Qatar is used to taking risks in pursuit of its vision and ambitions both at home and abroad Libya certainly proved to be its riskiest venture yet. Having previously played an important role in mediating conflicts across the region whether in Lebanon, Sudan, or Yemen Qatar worked with the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Arab League to galvanise the international response to an impending humanitarian disaster in Libya. Not only did it play a political role, but for the first time it deployed its military to assist in the protection of the Libyan people. Looking ahead, Libya will need much more assistance and support from the international community as it builds a new state with strong democratic institutions and a capacity for economic growth. Supporting the state-builders and the institution-builders in the country after the devastation should be a key role for all Arab states to fill, alongside other international actors. Nowhere is the challenge of regional security greater than with regard to Syria. Relations with President Bashar Al-Assad soured dramatically when he failed to heed the advice of close friends such as Qatar and Turkey. Qatar is now working with other key Gulf and Arab states - particularly Saudi Arabia to coordinate an Arab-led response to the crisis. These efforts which have been too slow to build have now led to an unprecedented situation in which the Arab League has suspended a founding member and imposed economic and political sanctions. The challenges in Syria are great, with frightening potential for further bloodshed and the killing of thousands of civilians. There will be an important role for the Arab


having previously played an important role in mediating conflicts across the region whether in leBanon, sudan, or yemen Qatar worked with the gulf cooperation council and the araB league to galvanise the international response to an impending humanitarian disaster in liByaLeague to play in getting the international community particularly UN Security Council members such as Russia, China and India to take effective and decisive action to cripple the killing machine of Assads security forces, and persuade him and his regime to step down and leave a secure space in which a democratic Syria can emerge. Another important development has been closer to home, in the role played by the GCC in the ongoing and deeply-troubling crisis in Bahrain. After ten months of struggle, with hundreds detained and many dead, it seems that the security approach adopted by Bahraini authorities and their GCC allies especially Saudi Arabia is not working. The attempt to forge a national dialogue has proved equally unsuccessful. Looking ahead, there will be a need to establish a new political and social contract that rewrites the relationship between the monarchy and people of Bahrain. Where external mediation has been unsuccessful in encouraging the sort of dialogue that could achieve that end, there will have to be renewed efforts and greater perseverance. Qatar is well placed to play a role here. As the Arab revolutions of 2011 continue to run their course, Qatar will likely continue to play an important role in regional and international affairs. Other pressing issues, such as the Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations, will continue to provide a stage for Qatari statesmanship. (Qatar is chair of the Arab Leagues follow-up committee on the issue.) On Iran, meanwhile, Qatar faces the challenge of engaging Tehran with regard to its nuclear programme, while tempering a growing sentiment in the US and Israel that sees military action, not containment, as the best way to counter associated threats. Importantly, in the fragile transitions underway in North Africa, resource-rich Gulf states must play a role in stimulating the economic growth that will be necessary to underpin democratic gains. Nowhere is this more urgent than in Egypt, where a tourism-reliant economy has flounderedand foreign direct investments fallen nearly 100%. Qatar could play an important role in coordinating an international and multilateral effort in this regard. The fluid scene set by the Arab Awakenings will demand that Qatar and others continue to adapt to the rapidly changing environment in the region. A track record of independent, bold and inclusive foreign policymaking has helped Qatar cope with this rapidly shifting landscape. Having pursued engagement with an array of actors irrespective of their ideological colour from the US, to Iran, Hamas and other Islamist groups Qatar is well equipped to play a role as a valued independent actor. As a new Middle East takes shape then, Qatar is set to remain centre stage, and must continue to bear the associated responsibilities

Salman Shaikhdirector of the brookings doha center and fellow at the saban center of middle east policy at the brookings institution, washington dc

january 2012

Qatar today 57

Q ata r ' s r o l e o n t h e wo r l d s tag e : D i p lo m at i c G a m e p l ay

Qatars sourCe of

arab springs

theres a Joke making the rounds in the middle east these days: three of egypts former presidents, gamal aBdel nasser, anwar sadat, and hosni muBarak, meet in hell and ask each other how they fell. nasser replies poison; sadat says assassination; and muBarak answers al Jazeera.

58 Qatar today

january 2012


uring the 15 years that it has broadcast from Qatar, Al Jazeera has served as far more than a traditional television station. With its fearless involvement in Arab politics, it has created a new venue for political freedom, which has culminated in its unreserved support for Arab revolutions. Al Jazeera has pushed the boundaries of information by providing live coverage of major developments in the Arab world and elsewhere. It is a platform for political and religious opposition groups in the Arab countries. It hosts Israeli spokespersons and embraces state-of-the-art broadcasting techniques. In short, it has become a global brand and a role model for other Arab media. Success breeds confidence, but it also attracts envy. Al Jazeera has no shortage of enemies, from the most radical Islamic fundamentalists to American and Israeli intelligence gatherers. And, between these two extremes, there is fierce debate ov