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The Qatari Spring: Qatar’s Emerging Role in Peacemaking

Sultan Barakat

Once a little-known Gulf peninsula, the tiny, gas-rich emirate of Qatar has in recent years undergone a remarkable transformation to emerge on the global scene as a heavyweight power in contemporary peacemaking.

This paper charts the rise of Qatar from a modest pearl-based economy and British protectorate to a gas giant and powerhouse in international mediation. Through a detailed examination of a number of recent peacemaking interventions, this paper asserts that a winning combination of Qatari policy makers’ wealth, will, and vision, coupled with the pursuit of three key strategies – political and economic liberalization, independence in foreign policy, and state branding – have permitted the Lilliputian state to carve a unique role for itself as an impartial mediator and bridge between the modern Western and Arab worlds. However, as later sections of the paper explore, Qatar’s recent move to ‘take sides’ during the Arab Spring revolutions may signify a break from this role, and could threaten the reputation of impartial broker which Qatari policymakers have so carefully crafted over recent years.

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