Despite being an extremely tiny Emirate, Qatar has proven its power as a dominant country by playing as a devil advocate with many nations that are suffering from one or the other form of economic or social unrest.
Qatar’s World Equations
According to Dr Uzi Rabi, Chair of the Department of Middle Eastern and African History, “Qatar has employed an independent and nuanced foreign policy in order to promote its regional position as well as upgrade its international profile.” In his detailed study over Qatar and its relations with other countries, Dr Rabi also mentions that Qatar has a unique ability to adapt to changing regional and international circumstances.
It is no wonder then that Qatar, very recently, took a completely different stand on Israel. It went onto condemn Netanyahu’s public declaration of annexing parts of Israeli occupied areas of the West Bank if he won the forthcoming general elections.
Expressing this thought was Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, H E Sultan bin Saad Al Muraikhi at the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) the Member States.
The meeting has been convened by Saudi Arabia, which Qatar does not see eye-to-eye but ironically sided with when it condemned Israel’s future assertions.
Some believe that Qatar wants to keep a sane equation with Israel so that it can be in the good books of the United States. This could be one reason why Qatar refused a confab with Israel in February terming it as “the time was not right”.
Netanyahu aimed to meet Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani in February at a US-led conference in Poland on the Middle East.
There will always be conflicting points of view of Qatar financing terror factions indirectly, while it openly provides humanitarian funds to the same country. A classic example is the West Bank and Gaza Strip, where the Palestinians admitted to being surprised to received crises fund of $450million post the May cease-fire between Israeli and Palestinian forces.
The Associated Press had reported that Qatar’s foreign ministry had confirmed that it would send part payment of $300m towards supporting health and education programmes of the Palestinian Authority, while the remaining ($180m) would go toward urgent humanitarian relief, UN programmes and providing electricity.
Indirect Terror Funding
So while, the oil and gas-rich nation, chooses to be indifferent to the militia rule and activity that has disrupted normal life for Palestinians, it rather funds the aftermath of war and disaster. In the perception of the world, it looks like a great save and gives them great PR mileage, which is what Doha is very serious about.
The US and EU classify Hamas as a terrorist group. Hamas drove forces from the internationally recognised Palestinian Authority out of Gaza in 2007. Since then, Hamas has controlled Gaza with the Palestinian Authority administering autonomous zones in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Although Qatar does not give money directly to Hamas, its support since 2012, totalling $755m, has been a vital lifeline for the cash-strapped group, relieving it from having to fund civilian and infrastructure projects.
Strangely, Qatar won the gratitude of both, the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyeh.