June 9, The Iran Project – As a small country with no strategic depth, Qatar is surrounded by powerful neighbors with which it has unresolved territorial, ideological differences.
Over the past few years Qatar has been trying to decrease its geopolitical problems and present a positive image to the world by adopting a multifaceted diplomacy through negotiating to resolve regional crisis, branding, using petrodollar and media diplomacy as well as playing the role of a peace-seeking player in the international arena.
Qatar, therefore, has pursued the mission of leading and resolving regional conflicts through relying on media diplomacy ( via the country’s pan-Arab broadcaster Al Jazeera, which targeted by hackers as Qatar crisis deepens) as well as overt and covert interference in Eritrea, Somalia, Darfur, Syria, Palestine, Yemen, etc., over the past three decades which reveals the country’s significant role in covering crises in the Arab world.
Following Turkey’s example, however, the Persian Gulf state, changed its détente diplomacy in 2011 and started overtly and covertly supporting Muslim Brotherhood. The ideological differences between Qater and Iran given their involvement in the proxy wars in Syria and Yemen as well as support for Muslim Brotherhood did not prevent Doha from joining force with Iran and covertly supporting Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. Qatar’s effort for supporting Muslim Brotherhood in the region and changing the region’s status quo was inevitably in conflict with Saudi Arabia’s conservative foreign policy which is aimed at maintaining the status quo and resembles Iran’s foreign policy in some aspects.
Furthermore, the incompatibility of Qatar’s foreign policy with its Arab neighbors, their ideological differences, its refusal to join the anti-Iran alliance spearheaded by the US for confronting Shia fundamentalism led Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to criticize the alliance, try to improve ties with Iran and double its interactions with Turkey.
The remarks of Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu after the passage of the bill for establishing military base in Qatar in June 2014 by the Turkish Parliament can shed more light on Qatar’s crisis. Çavuşoğlu said the stability of the two countries with similar ideologies is interwoven together.
The recent crisis in the Arab world poses many challenges and opportunities for regional states including Iran; in addition to affecting the energy markets, the current situation provides the opportunity for improving the bilateral ties between Doha and Tehran as the only country that can help Qatar resolve its geopolitical problems. But Qatar’s long-time relation and ties with its Arab neighbors will prevent such alliance to last, because Qatar will not be able to endure the current situation for a long time and will ultimately succumb to the pressure of its stronger neighbors.
This article was written by Dr. Nesa Zahedi, a faculty member of Qom’s Mofid University.