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Why is Qatar concerned in negotiations between Israel and Hamas? | World Information

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The eyes of the world have been on Qatar, as mediators there introduced a four-day truce between Israel and Hamas.

Its overseas affairs spokesperson Majed al Ansari revealed the main points of the deal, together with a brief ceasefire and the discharge of some Israeli hostages in change for Palestinian prisoners.

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Together with their counterparts from the US and Egypt, the Qataris have been working because the early days of the present battle to get an settlement between the 2 sides.

Right here, Sky Information appears to be like at why the small Gulf state performs such a key function.

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Why is Qatar concerned in hostage negotiations?

Pal to all people – buddy to nobody

For the reason that Nineteen Nineties and the takeover of Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani as chief, Qatar has positioned itself as a mediator within the Center East.

“Qatar’s function as a mediator is just not new,” Professor Mahjoob Zweiri, director of Qatar College’s Gulf Research Centre, tells Sky Information.

It’s ready to talk to non-state actors, tribal and militia teams that others – significantly Western international locations – are usually not.

Over time these teams have included the Afghan Taliban, Syrian rebels, Hamas, and different Palestinian militants resembling Islamic Jihad.

Qatar additionally has an in depth relationship with Iran, with the 2 sharing pure gasoline fields price billions.

Over the previous few a long time these relationships have allowed Qatar to facilitate offers between the likes of the US, Europe and Israel – and people teams – gaining a point of leverage on each side.

“The defining characteristic of Qatari overseas coverage is pragmatic self-interest,” says Dr Melanie Garson, affiliate professor in worldwide safety and battle decision at College School London.

“It is a buddy to all people – buddy to nobody strategy.”

Relationship with Hamas

Like most Muslim-majority international locations, Qatar has longstanding hyperlinks to the Palestinian trigger and helps a two-state answer.

In 2012 former Emir Sheikh Hamad turned the primary Arab chief to go to Gaza in years.

Former Emir of Qatar and his wife with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza in 2012
Former Emir of Qatar and his spouse with Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza in 2012

The Qataris give Hamas round £1bn a 12 months and host its political bureau in Doha, with a number of exiled leaders based mostly there.

Though it was the primary Gulf state to determine relations with Israel in 1996, it severed ties once more in 2009 following what Israel calls Operation Solid Lead and Palestinians discuss with because the Gaza Bloodbath.

It was additionally not a part of the 2020 Abraham Accords, which noticed Arab states such because the UAE and Bahrain normalise relations with Israel.

Hamas's political leader Khaled Meshaal gives a speech in Doha
Hamas’s political chief Khaled Meshaal provides a speech in Doha

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“Of all the Gulf states, Qatar is the least pleasant in direction of Israel, because it sits exterior the axis of the Abraham Accords,” Dr Garson says. “So it was presumably the one place Hamas may comfortably sit with that degree of illustration.”

Whereas there are not any formal diplomatic relations, there may be an “association” between Qatar and the Israelis, helped alongside by the US, Dr Zweiri says.

“You may’t have negotiations like those we’re seeing in the meanwhile with out Israel on the desk,” Dr Garson provides. “In order that they’ve needed to have that pragmatic strategy to together with them within the dialog.”

This has allowed Doha to mediate in each the present battle and the one in 2014.

Strategic US relationship

The US and different Western states have benefited from Qatari assist in negotiating offers with powers they view as malign.

In the course of the Syrian civil warfare in 2017, it helped negotiate the discharge of hostages held in Iraq, a few of whom included members of Qatar’s ruling household.

In 2019 it presided over talks that led to the discharge of two Western hostages taken by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Extra just lately it performed a key function in evacuating hundreds of individuals when the Taliban took energy once more in 2021 and this 12 months it has been engaged on a prisoner swap between the US and Iran.

Qatar can also be house to the most important US army base within the Center East, which suggests the Individuals “function their very own pragmatic self-interest” within the nation, Dr Garson says.

Members of the US military at its Al Udeid airbase in Doha
Members of the US army at its Al Udeid airbase in Doha

What does the remainder of the world suppose?

Dr Zweiri says Western states view Qatar as a “reliable participant”, which understands each its worldwide obligations and the politics of the area.

He provides that its major goals are a ceasefire in Gaza, avoiding the “radicalisation of a brand new era” there, and general regional stability.

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However Dr Garson is extra sceptical, and says: “Qatar has a transparent funding channel to Hamas and Hamas has objectively perpetrated a horrific bloodbath.

“So it could possibly be attempting to reassert its affect on Hamas to try to deflect from – what could possibly be considered as – complicity in fuelling the warfare machine that led to this within the first place.

“The fact is this isn’t a negotiation that ought to should occur. It ought to have been the unconditional launch of hostages.

“So I believe any skilled diplomat or overseas coverage specialist can see this for what it’s.

“These are odious negotiations, however in that place the West has to just accept any agent in a position to help.

“Israel has needed to have that very same pragmatism – that if that is the important thing to getting by way of this faster, that stone cannot afford to be left unturned.”

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