Diplomacy

Conflict Broker

Foreign Policy

Qatar has built its brand as a conflict mediator with a view to improving regional stability and achieving double-edged influence, which could benefit its political and economic national interests.

Since the beginning of the century, mediation has been the cornerstone of Qatar’s foreign policy. Doha has invested substantial resources in facilitating dialog in different regional and international conflicts across the Middle East and Africa. Qatari mediation in Yemen, Lebanon, Palestine, and Darfur proved the success of the state in bringing parties to the negotiating table to defuse diplomatic differences. In a region condemned by its cross-border crises and sectarian strife, Qatar has emerged as a third-party conflict arbitrator adept at seeking dialog.

The 2003 Constitution bases Qatar’s foreign policy “on the principle of strengthening international peace and security by means of encouraging peaceful resolution of international disputes.” As an integral part of its international pursuits, Doha’s diplomatic efforts have led to its reputation as a reliable conflict broker. Among its efforts, mediation between the Yemeni government and Houthi rebels, hosting of negotiations to head off political conflict in Lebanon, and facilitating talks between the Sudanese government and the rebel movements of Darfur are included. However, the Arab Spring marked a turning point in Qatar’s regional engagement, shifting its focus from conflict mediation to more proactive intervention

With these processes, Qatar has cultivated an image of an independent actor interested in peace and stability. Nevertheless, its implication in foreign crises goes hand in hand with its aim to assure the security of the peninsula and increase its influence in the region. In this sense, Qatar’s foreign policy can be explained as a part of a soft power strategy to carve out an image of an important regional player and boost its global reputation

Qatar has invested heavily in most of the countries where it has played a mediating role. It became one of the largest investors in south Lebanon, and pledged up to USD500 million in reconstruction assistance for Sa’ada Province, the center of the Houthi insurgency in northern Yemen. In Sudan, Qatari investment assumed a strategic dimension through the acquisition of farmland for Qatar’s National Food Security Program. As a matter of fact, a number of the Qatari mediation initiatives have also contributed to the economic and financial security of the country. Furthermore, Qatar has been forced to play an important balancing act with a view to protect national economic interests, such as in the case of Iran and their shared South Pars gas field, the largest of its kind in the world.

Qatar enjoys a neutral position for transporting and hosting large delegations for extended periods of time in Doha, and possesses the financial resources to deliver humanitarian aid and pledges of investment to support eventual peace agreements. Most importantly, a highly personalized decision-making structure allows a small number of key individuals to initiate mediation efforts and leverage their personal charisma to secure agreements. Following this line, the newly appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs, HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al Thani, stressed Qatar’s commitment to resolving conflicts during its mandate: “Qatar has repeatedly contributed funds and know-how to a number of development projects in the Arab region as well as in many other countries. Qatar will spare no efforts in providing assistance to take development forward. We have been at the forefront of supporting peoples striving for freedom, dignity, justice, equality, and non-sectarian or political exclusion.”

Due to its vast financial resources and good relationships with key global actors, Qatar has the potential to play a crucial role in conflict resolution, while benefiting from an increasing regional influence through international investments.

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