Home Technology How Qatar grew to become a key dealer within the Israel-Hamas deal

How Qatar grew to become a key dealer within the Israel-Hamas deal

How Qatar grew to become a key dealer within the Israel-Hamas deal


Late Tuesday, Qatar formally introduced a deal between Israel and Hamas that will quickly pause preventing in Gaza to facilitate a prisoner trade of at the very least 50 Israeli and dual-national hostages for the return of 150 Palestinian prisoners, amongst different components.

Implementation of the deal remains to be being finalized, but it surely appears to be like like a severe diplomatic breakthrough, although decidedly not a decision to the battle. The deal was so delicate that even because the settlement appeared imminent, senior White Home officers had been reluctant to substantiate till the Qatari authorities formally introduced something.

Qatar bought the highlight right here due to its position as mediator by weeks of painstaking negotiations. The US performed a job, for certain, as did Egypt. However Qatar was a key middleman.

Even earlier than this most up-to-date warfare between Israel and Hamas, the very tiny, very wealthy Gulf state had carved out a little bit of a repute as a diplomatic dealer, particularly in hostage negotiations. This has been a deliberate gambit on Qatar’s half, which has cultivated and managed pragmatic ties with the area’s predominant gamers — turning into a sort of center man between events that in any other case don’t get alongside. It’s a key US ally, internet hosting an American navy base important to US operations in locations like Syria and Iraq. Qatar additionally has ties to Islamist teams, together with Hamas, whose political arm has an workplace in Doha.

This has given Qatar leverage — and, most significantly, entry. The US and Israel don’t negotiate instantly with Hamas. That has made the Qataris an indispensable go-between. “It’s a must to discuss to Hamas to get something executed,” mentioned F. Gregory Gause, professor on the Bush College of Authorities and Public Service at Texas A&M. “The Qataris are there that can assist you out — and so they’re there to remind you that they’re serving to you out.”

Qatar’s position on this battle extends past this week’s deal. In late October, Qatar helped negotiate the discharge of a pair hostages held by Hamas, and it might be serving to to tamp down a wider regional battle, given its good relations with Iran and open channels with the Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah. Qatar performed a job in mediating the 2014 warfare between Israel and Hamas, and has supported Gaza, together with financing salaries for Hamas civil servants by the sale of gasoline to the group — with the okay of Israel, partially as a result of Israel noticed it as a stabilizing measure.

Qatar’s diplomacy isn’t restricted to the realm of Israel-Hamas, both. Qatar served as an middleman between the US and the Taliban earlier than the 2 in the end negotiated a peace deal instantly, in Doha. Qatar’s open strains with the Taliban helped facilitate evacuations from Afghanistan after Kabul’s fall in 2021, and even after. And Qatar has more and more turn out to be identified for its ability in hostage negotiations, even outdoors the area. It just lately helped dealer a deal to get Russia to return 4 Ukrainian youngsters to their households.

“It desires to be influential, diplomatically, and it does perceive that, clearly, it’s not a regional superpower that may dictate issues,” mentioned Bessma Momani, a political science professor on the College of Waterloo. But sustaining these delicate ties — and dealing these connections — is an excellent manner for Qatar to advance its pursuits, and its safety. That method comes with some dangers, however, at the very least proper now, they don’t outweigh the upsides for Qatar.

Qatar finds “a option to be useful and resourceful in particular, area of interest areas that may have outsized affect,” Momani mentioned. “That’s their technique.”

How Qatar deployed its strategic diplomacy to safe a deal between Israel and Hamas

After Hamas’s October 7 raid in Israel, the place it additionally captured about 240 hostages, Qatar approached america and the Israelis concerning the potential launch of the hostages. In line with senior White Home officers, this led to the institution of a channel to work on these negotiations. That working group, or “cell,” as a White Home senior official termed it in a name with reporters Tuesday, finally helped safe the discharge of two Americans held hostage by Hamas on October 20. The discharge served as a sort of check case, and the success of the operation opened up the potential for a wider deal to get many extra hostages launched. “Qatar actually might ship by the cell we had established,” the senior administration official mentioned.

Weeks of intense diplomacy adopted, with the deal usually teetering, together with over Hamas’s preliminary refusal to current proof of life. However finally Hamas agreed, Israel’s authorities adopted the deal, and Qatar made it official.

There’s nonetheless a number of uncertainty. Israeli strikes on Gaza continued Wednesday, and any prisoner trade isn’t prone to begin till at the very least Friday, an Israeli official mentioned. This might be a posh, cautious, gradual course of, and the potential for one thing to go sideways persists. Possibly the one factor predictable about any of it was Qatar’s involvement.

Hamas’s political wing has maintained an outpost in Doha since 2012, relocating there from Syria after the outbreak of civil warfare. This Hamas workplace has come underneath a number of scrutiny within the wake of the October 7 assault, however Qatar had welcomed that workplace with the backing of america. At that time, the US had additionally been counting on Qatari intermediaries to take care of the Taliban.

“With these teams that we, the US, don’t interact with instantly, it’s higher to know the place to have the ability to attain them by intermediaries, ought to the necessity come up,” mentioned Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, a fellow for the Center East at Rice College’s Baker Institute for Public Coverage. “It’s higher to have them in a pleasant associate state corresponding to Qatar, than, say, in Afghanistan or in Iran, or in Syria, the place they can’t be reached by a 3rd occasion, if vital, at a time of disaster.”

The Israel-Hamas warfare is that sort of a disaster, one the place a line to Hamas can be very, very tough for Israel and america to determine, but in addition very, very important. It goes each methods, too: For Islamist teams like Hamas, Qatar is a conduit to governments and superpowers.

For Qatar, being pals with everyone seems to be a fragile geopolitical balancing act. It will probably host a US navy base, however it will possibly additionally share an oil area with Iran. It will probably hold shut ties to Islamist teams that America and a lot of its regional companions don’t like in any respect. However as a result of it’s been capable of leverage these connections, it will get to maintain doing what it’s doing.

“It’s about principally making an attempt to keep up working relationships with all events, after which working these relationships in occasions of disaster to attempt to de-escalate complicated conditions that would in any other case have severe repercussions for safety instability, not simply in Qatar, however within the area,” Ulrichsen mentioned.

Mediation is a pillar of Qatar’s overseas coverage, a lot in order that, as Ulrichsen identified, the decision of worldwide disputes is definitely in its structure. However Qatar can also be a small nation in a unstable area. It doesn’t have all that a lot besides a number of oil and fuel money — which, to be very reasonable, isn’t an insignificant a part of this story. It is a useful entree to energy politics, particularly for those who can, say, fund a worldwide media outlet like Al Jazeera to advertise your worldview, or be there along with your hydrocarbons if a whole continent is in an vitality disaster.

However general, Qatar believes that if it will possibly show its utility within the area — and across the globe — that’s one thing of an insurance coverage coverage in case of insecurity and threats. The identical factor goes for internet hosting a superpower’s navy base. Being helpful to different international locations, and elevating its world stature, additionally helps the world overlook another troubling features about Qatar, together with its poor human rights document.

“Qatar is making an attempt to carve out a worldwide position,” Gause mentioned. “We noticed that with the World Cup. We see that with Al Jazeera. We see that with all these mediation efforts, and we see it with the Islamist technique, and we see it with the American airbase. It’s all an try to make Qatar related and make Qatar vital so nobody will say, ‘Why do we’d like this little place?’”

Up to now, that is principally working for Qatar — and possibly for the remainder of the world, too, relying on how this newest deal unfolds. It’s not a very risk-free technique although. It was examined in 2017, when Saudi Arabia and different states boycotted Qatar over its ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Then-President Donald Trump jumped in on the facet of Saudi Arabia to accuse the Qataris of funding terrorists, too. US diplomats rushed to undo the harm, however the regional boycott ended up lasting about three years. Qatar’s shut ties to Islamist teams might someday elicit extra stress from, say, Washington; its place nonetheless comes with reputational dangers.

It is usually doubtless that Qatar — like many different international locations — wished to search out some pathway to de-escalating the violence and horror in Gaza. This deal isn’t a decision, however a short lived pause, hostage trade, and humanitarian entry are first steps. As Vox’s Jonathan Guyer identified, the truce is a gap, not the top level. “Extra diplomacy is required now. 4 days of pause isn’t sufficient.”

That’s doubtless the following check for Israel, Hamas, america, and, so it appears, Qatar.


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