Mediation, a key instrument for Qatari diplomacy

For several years, Qatar has sought to become an important mediator not only in the Middle East but also internationally. Sudan, Yemen, Lebanon, then between Washington and Tehran, but also between Washington and Kabul … The small gas emirate in the Gulf makes enormous efforts to force itself into dealing with conflicts and makes sure to increase its influence. For several months, Doha has also been involved as a mediator in Chad to initiate a national dialogue, making mediation a key instrument in Qatar’s foreign policy.

Qatar seeks to “reinvent mediation position before 2011”, believes David Rigoulet-Rose, a researcher at the Institute for International and Strategic Relations (Iris), a specialist in Qatar. This country, he recalls, had “somewhat disproportionate ambitions during the Arab Spring: through the Islamist movement, Qatar played a proactive role as in Libya”.

Ambitions that have given him a downturn and a boycott of the countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) supported by Egypt. Accused of aiding terrorism, Qatar was expelled from this body in 2017.

► Reading: Qatar: Doha’s role in US-Taliban negotiations

This boycott, which reduced its room for maneuver, eventually led Qatar to “resume its own role and reinvent itself,” specifies the Iris researcher, indicating that the small gas emirate has benefited from a series of “rather favorable circumstances” which made it possible for him to present himself as a “go-between, (an intermediary), especially between the Americans and the Taliban, even practically between Iran and the United States”, he confirms.

A role shaped by the great powers With the diversity of its mediations, Doha shows great accessibility and tries to impose itself on the regional geopolitical chessboard. A role praised by current UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who sees Qatar’s capital as a “platform for global dialogue”.

It is also for international acceptance that Qatar has developed know-how. First with the very present former Foreign Minister Hamad Ben Jassim, but also with the resources available to the state. The emirate’s openness to opposition movements – including Islamist movements – provided it with “the necessary tools to initiate mediation, which has often succeeded”, states political scientist Hasni Abidi.

Another important point that the head of the Center for Studies and Research on the Arab and Mediterranean World in Geneva insists: “Qatar’s desire to increase its influence can only be done with the blessing of the great powers,” and especially from the United States. , which had fallen in Afghanistan. This is sometimes also done in agreement with other European powers: “It is difficult to imagine Qatar as a mediator in certain conflicts concerning regional security without the agreement and will of the great powers,” concludes Hasni Abidi.

Qatar and Chad a not so easy relationshipBetween Qatar and Chad, relationships have not always been easy. During the Gulf crisis in 2017, their respective embassies were closed. The Gulf Coordination Council (GCC) excluded Qatar and sided with Saudi Arabia. Qatar welcomed Chadian rebels on its territory, including Timane Erdimi, tenor of this politico-military opposition who became president of the Rally of Forces for Change.

But the arrival of the new president of the Transitional Military Council, Mahamat Idriss Deby, came to power, according to political scientist Hasni Abidi, “a turning point in relations between the two countries”. During a visit to Doha in September 2021, it was the son of Idriss Deby who officially requested the mediation of the Emir of Qatar with a view to national reconciliation.

Mediation initiated by Chad Deby was then “aware of Qatar’s influence on part of the political-military opposition in Doha”, states political scientist Abiddi. Also aware of the “efforts previously made by Qatar’s diplomacy to resolve several conflicts in the region, particularly in Sudan, (he, editor’s note) makes his request”. Doha agreed and a committee was formed to prepare for the ongoing pre-dialogue.

However, this Qatar mediation remains problematic for Paris, which is following it closely, according to Hasni Abidi, “Doha has good relations with Turkey – which looks at this region near Libya – and with Russia, which is also trying to consolidate its presence in this region.”

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