World

The West owes Qatar a favour over Afghanistan. That was the point – Times of India


DUBAI: Since the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, the world’s high diplomats have been beating a path to Qatar, lengthy the gateway to the Taliban and now the important go-between as the West tries to cope with the new Kabul authorities. This is not any accident.
Analysts describe Qatar’s emergence as a dealer in Afghanistan as a half of a fastidiously nurtured technique by the tiny however wealthy state to bolster its personal safety, by changing into indispensable as a venue for worldwide mediation.
The world’s greatest liquefied pure fuel producer, the small desert peninsula nation is one of the wealthiest nations per capita. It is house to barely 3 million individuals, 85 p.c of them foreigners with visitor employee visas. Yet it has lengthy held outsized ambitions, internet hosting each the Middle East’s greatest US air base and its most influential TV channel.
It squandered a lot of its regional clout over the previous decade by overreaching in the wake of the 2011 Arab Spring revolts, when it backed professional-democracy actions and rebels throughout the area. Furious neighbours led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, with their ally Egypt, punished it with commerce sanctions and diplomatic isolation.
Now, Qatar is again. Its dispute with the Arab powers was lastly resolved this 12 months, and subsequent 12 months it would host the soccer world cup. But few strikes seem to have paid fairly as giant a diplomatic dividend as its position over Afghanistan, cultivated because it let the Taliban open the group’s principal worldwide workplace in 2013 and offered the venue for peace talks that led to final 12 months’s US settlement to withdraw.
That “patient diplomatic facilitation” was a traditional means for a small state to raise its worldwide relevance, stated Kristin Diwan, senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington.
“Given its population size, substantial military projection is a tough proposition. But Qatar can bring real value through the relationships it maintains, especially across both Western and Islamic parties – and especially those the US is loath to approach directly.”
In the weeks since the militants swept into energy, greater than 58,000 of the 124,000 Western residents and at-threat Afghans who have been airlifted out of Afghanistan flew by Qatar.
And now, as short-term house to the evacuated Afghanistan embassies of the United States and several other European allies, it’s serving as the principal mediator for Western efforts to interact.
Stepping up
“As we carry forward, our diplomacy here, we know that Qatar will be our partner, because this is not the first time that Qatar has stepped up to help in Afghanistan,” stated US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who visited this week with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
A Qatari official stated that as an neutral mediator, Qatar has engaged with all sides to offer freedom of motion for these in Afghanistan, and “fight terrorism to prevent any future instability in the region”.
Working with its shut ally Turkey, it has helped the Taliban reopen Kabul airport, permitting humanitarian and home flights to renew.
During Afghanistan’s hasty evacuation, Qatari diplomats on the floor in Kabul helped escort fleeing Afghans by checkpoints to the airport.
As a small state surrounded by higher-armed rivals that will little question covet its fuel fields, Qatar has lengthy felt the want to guard itself with formidable diplomacy. Four years in the past, it discovered itself in peril when Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and their allies, with the obvious tacit approval of the Trump administration, imposed commerce bans and diplomatic isolation.
The neighbours accused Qatar of backing Sunni Muslim Islamist teams throughout the area whereas concurrently rising too cosy with Shi’ite Iran. Some in the area questioned whether or not Saudi Arabia and its allies may even invade, though Riyadh denied harbouring any such plan.
Qatar, shielded from the financial affect by its $300 billion sovereign wealth fund, denied wronging its neighbours and held out till the dispute was resolved this January. But the feud underscored the want for it to domesticate highly effective buddies.
Being helpful to the West might help, stated James Dorsey, a senior fellow at Singapore’s S Rajaratnam School of International Studies.
“It’s much an issue about influence as it is an issue about being relevant to the international community in ways in which the international community – if you are under threat – will step in for you.”



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