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Saturday, 13 August 2022
Qatar's contradictory relationships
Zara saleh
On August 15, when the Taliban movement swept into Kabul and took over the country, Qatar was the first country to provide urgent help with the airlift for foreign nationals to evacuate from Afghanistan. The tiny emirate with a 3 million population and less than 20% of them only are citizens, has played a significant role between the Taliban and western countries to complete the evacuation process from Kabul.

Qatari's foreign minister was the first official who visited Afghanistan and to meet the Taliban government. Compared to other countries, Doha has won the trust of the US and has hosted the largest American military base in the Middle East. At the same time, the Taliban movement had opened its political office in Doha in 2013 and then began to host the peace negotiations between the Taliban and the US.

Doha, on the other hand, has built strong ties with Iran despite Tehran's negative role to raise sectarian instability in the Middle East and continues to occupy UAE territories. Added to that, Iran considers as the main source and supporter of Shia militia groups who’s occupying four Arab capitals and continues their regional military and political intervention as a real threat to the Arab community. Simultaneously, Qatar has been in a close and strategic relationship with Turkey as the main supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood movement in several Arab countries such as Egypt, Syria, and Libya.

In purpose to become a regional power, Qatar continued its relations with Islamists groups in the region. For instance, Doha is still the safe place for many Islamist leaders such as Yousef Al-Qaradawi and other Muslim Brotherhood leaders and Hamas movement as well.

Furthermore, since the beginning of the so-called "Arab Spring" Qatar continued to keep its ties with Muslim Brotherhood and has been involved actively to support them with active coordination with Turkey. Such Qatari's ties with radical Islamist groups during the Arab Spring have led to the political and economic embargo towards Doha by several Arab countries in 2017. Such punishment was due to Qatar's rejection to cut its relations with the radical groups and to shut Al-Jazeera TV channel that was based in Doha.

Qatar's close ties with the Taliban was the unique opportunity for Doha to become the centre of the West's attention in terms of the evacuation processes that had been done by Qatar's ambassador in Kabul after the Taliban took over the country. Even US President Joe Biden has mentioned Qatari's role in Afghanistan and said, "No country has done more than Qatar,”.

On the other hand, Qatar's gamble with radical groups such as the Taliban in recent evacuation might have brought Doha to international politics as a logistic necessity for the US and other European countries. In the previous experiences of such gamble relations with the Islamists groups, Qatar has been failed to play the expected role since the beginning of Arab spring. The main Qatari allies, the Muslim Brotherhood, had failed in Egypt, Tunisia, and Maroco after the first election.

In Syria and Libya, Qatari's Muslim Brotherhood militias have been incompetent, and they served Turkey and Iran's agendas that brought instability to the region. Doha's relations with the Taliban might repeat the same scenario of the Arab spring as the gamble with the special Salafist movement such as the Taliban seems riskier and unsecure, and the wind doesn't always run as the ships desire.

by: Zara Saleh

Zara Saleh