Foreign relations of Qatar
||This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in the Arabic Wikipedia. (May 2013)|
|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Qatar achieved full independence on 3 September 1971. Arab states were among the first to recognise Qatar, and the state promptly gained admittance to the United Nations and the Arab League. Qatar established diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union, and Communist China in 1988. The country was an early member of OPEC and a founding member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Its policy and external relations are managed by its Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
- 1 Breakthrough as an international player
- 2 Bilateral relations
- 3 See also
- 4 References
- 5 External links
Breakthrough as an international player
The Emir of Qatar was Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani from 1995 to 2013. He boosted Qatar's image as a serious Middle East foreign player. The first major move in this regard was the founding of Al-Jazeera. Qatar maintains close relationship with western powers--Al Udeid Air Base plays host to US and UK air forces—and eastern powers, and has often tried to bridge the gap between Muslim and non-Muslim states. Qatar has a population of around 1.8 million people, however only 280,000 of these are citizens; the majority of the population are foreigners who work and live in the state. It is also one of the few countries in which citizens do not have to pay any taxes. Qatar is a member of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Gulf Cooperation Council, OPEC and the Council of Arab Economic Unity.
Role in Arab world and conflict with other Gulf States
Qatar has become an influential player in Arab world. Qatar supported several rebel groups during the Arab Spring both financially and by asserting global influence through its expanding news group, Al Jazeera.
Qatar's support for the Muslim Brotherhood and allied groups throughout the middle east, as well as positions taken by Al Jazeera have led to increasing tensions with other Gulf States. These came to a head during a March 2014 meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council, after which the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain announced the recall of their ambassadors to Qatar
Some financial economists have interpreted the 2014 Saudi-Qatari rift as the tangible political sign of a growing economic rivalry between oil and natural gas producers, which could “have deep and long-lasting consequences” beyond the MENA area
Other global activities
Of late money, the Emirate has been tremendously active in the global realm. The Sudanese government and the strongest Darfur rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement, signed an agreement in Doha. While Doha also took a tough stand in the reaction to the Israeli invasion of Gaza. Following this reaction and apparent closeness with Iran the 2009 Arab League summit in Doha was met with further controversy although Qatar was seen as emerging further with the follow-up Arab-Latin American (Latam) summit.
On 4 May 2009, the Qatari Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Ahmad Abdullah Al Mahmud said that Chad and Sudan had agreed to end hostilities against each other and to normalise relations Qatari mediated talks in Doha. However, the agreement soon broke down. Qatar hosted a donors conference to help rebuild war-ravaged Darfur in April 2013.
In June 2010, Qatari peacekeeping forces deployed in the disputed Ras Doumeira area on the border between Djibouti and Eritrea after the latter withdrew from the area. The intention was to help start bilateral negotiations and solve the territorial dispute which had previously turned violent.
Having been selected to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Qatar will be the first Middle Eastern country to host the FIFA World Cup. Qatar-funded Qatar Airways has gone on an aggressive expansion campaign by competing with nearby Emirates Airline to reach more destinations and serve more passengers. The Sixty-sixth session of the United Nations General Assembly was presided over by former permanent representative of Qatar to the UN Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser.
In September 2013, Qatar funded 70% of a US$16 million mosque to be built in Slovenia (the only mosque in that country). It is due for completion in 2016. Due to its natural resource revenue and low indigenous population, Qatar has been able to take bold moves in expanding its global presence, particularly its regional role following the Arab Spring funding the oppositions in the Libyan Civil War and the Syrian civil war, as well as the Islamist government of Egypt (which was opposed by other fellow GCC states).
According to Immanuel Wallerstein,[who?] Qatar is seeking to become a major player in the Middle East. As such the country played a crucial role [clarification needed] in the Libyan Civil War, while seeking to do the same in the Syrian civil war, adding that Qatar and Saudi Arabia were in competition to be a more powerful regional player.
During the waning years of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2010 the United States and the Taliban initiated exploratory talks in regards to the ending the conflict in Afghanistan after the latter announced its intention to open an office in Doha. Though they were halted later amid Taliban accusations of malfeasance by the United States, President Hamid Karzai suggested the two parties had held daily talks in Qatar, although the U.S.and the Taliban denied it.
The territorial dispute with Bahrain over the Hawar Islands and the maritime boundary dispute with Bahrain were solved by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague. In the 2001 decision, Bahrain kept the Hawar Islands and Qit'at Jaradah but dropped claims to Janan Island and Zubarah on mainland Qatar, while Qatar retained significant maritime areas and their resources.
United Arab Emirates
Qatar established trade relations with the State of Israel in 1996. In January 2008 Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak met with former Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalifa al-Thani in Switzerland, at the Davos Economic Forum. The existence of the surreptitious talks has so far been kept secretive by Israel. Despite Qatar's support of Hamas and its good relations with Hizbullah, Israeli leaders have maintained direct contact with the emirate. In January 2007, in his last months as vice premier, current President Shimon Peres paid a high-profile visit to the capital city of Doha. Peres visited Qatar in 1996, when he launched the new Israeli trade bureau there.
Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni met with the Qatari Emir at a UN conference.[when?] In April 2008, she visited Qatar where she attended a conference and met the Emir, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Oil and Gas.
Following the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict, Qatar hosted an emergency conference of Arab states and Iran to discuss the conflict. The Hamas administration in Gaza, as opposed to the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, represented the Palestinians, undermining support for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Khalid Meshaal, the leader of Hamas, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, and President Ahmadinejad of Iran urged all Arab states to cut any remaining ties to Israel.
In 2010, Qatar twice offered to restore trade relations with Israel and allow the reinstatement of the Israeli mission in Doha, on condition that Israel allow Qatar to send building materials and money to Gaza to help rehabilitate infrastructure, and that Israel make a public statement expressing appreciation for Qatar's role and acknowledging its standing in the Middle East. Israel refused, on the grounds that Qatari supplies could be used by Hamas to build bunkers and reinforced positions from which to fire rockets at Israeli cities and towns, and that Israel did not want to get involved in the competition between Qatar and Egypt over the Middle East mediation.
On 30 April 2013, Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani said that final status agreements with the Palestinians could involve land swaps instead of sticking to the 1967 borders. This was received positively in Israel with Justice Minister Tzipi Livni saying: "This news is very positive. In the tumultuous world around ... it could allow the Palestinians to enter the room and make the needed compromises and it sends a message to the Israeli public that this is not just about us and the Palestinians", adding that "peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis is ... a strategic choice for the Arab states".
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In September 1992, tensions arose between Qatar and Saudi Arabia when Saudi forces allegedly attacked a Qatari border post, resulting in two deaths. Since the event relations have improved. A joint commission has been set up to demarcate the border as agreed between the two governments. Most, but not all, of the border issues have now been resolved. In 2010, the Emir became the first Arab leader to tour South Lebanon and view the various projects it funded following the 2006 Lebanon War. He inaugurated[clarification needed] an hospital in Bint Jbeil and a nearby mosque and church, while accompanied by Lebanon's President Michel Sleiman and Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri. He also became the first international leader to visit the Gaza Strip.
During the Syrian civil war, Qatar, along with Saudi Arabia, Turkey and western states, vocally and materially supported the opposition with arms and funds against the government. Qatar has been the biggest sponsor of opposition forces during the civil war.
Qatar provides an option for joint tourist visas that allows visitors to visit Qatar and Oman as well. The ties between the Qatari leadership and the Muslim Brotherhood are also viewed with relative suspiscion by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. On 5 March 2014, the three countries withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar in protest at what they called Qatar's non-compliance with a November 2013 agreement not to "interfere" in countries' internal affairs. In early 2014 Qatar and Saudi Arabia appeared to be exploring ways of ending the rift.
- List of diplomatic missions in Qatar
- List of diplomatic missions of Qatar
- Territorial disputes in the Persian Gulf
- Visa requirements for Qatari citizens
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So entrenched is this exploitation that the Nepalese ambassador to Qatar, Maya Kumari Sharma, recently described the emirate as an "open jail".
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