Monday 23 Jul 2018 | 06:33 | SYDNEY
Monday 23 Jul 2018 | 06:33 | SYDNEY

Qatar: Diplomatic World Cup winners


Rodger Shanahan


22 December 2010 08:23

Gulf Arab states can be divided roughly into two camps — those that see Iran as a threat (be it existential, irredentist or ideological), and those that, for rather more pragmatic reasons, see Iran as a permanent geographic reality which needs to be engaged. Selected excerpts from the diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks suggest Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE fall into the former category while Qatar and Oman fall into the latter. Kuwait appears to waver between the two.

Relations between the Gulf states and Iran are, however, more complex than the WikiLeaks cables allow, as this Lowy paper illustrates.

For its part, Qatar has once again shown its willingness to swim against the Arab diplomatic tide, with the Qatari Emir paying his sixth visit to international pariah Iran yesterday, coming on the back of a naval visit by Iranian ships to Doha on Monday and visits from Iranian provincial governors and education specialists in the coming weeks.

Qatar is a classic 'hedger' — maintaining friendly relations with Iran while hosting US and coalition aircraft at the enormous al-Udeid air base. Mind you, with a tiny population and military, abundant gas reserves and unresolved maritime border issues, it has little choice but to be the ultimate international relations pragmatist, maintaining cordial relations with everyone. And having resolved the Lebanese political crisis in 2008, created an internationally regarded media organisation (al-Jazeera) and won the rights to the 2022 soccer World Cup, who could argue against their approach'

Photo by Flickr user Doha Sam.