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Κυριακή, 26 Σεπτεμβρίου, 2021

From Afghanistan to the World Cup, Tiny, Wealthy Qatar Steps Up

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The blockade ended early this year, before Mr. Biden’s inauguration.

Now it is Qatar’s good relations with outliers like the Taliban and Iran — relations that contributed to the accusations of supporting terrorism — that have made it invaluable as a go-between, allowing Qatar to promote what it calls “preventive diplomacy.”

“Sometimes, a small size allows you actually to play exactly that role, because you are not intimidating anyone,” Qatar’s assistant foreign minister, Lolwah Al-Khater, said in an interview. “It’s a small country that no one is worried about. We are not going to wage a war against anyone.”

Qatar, which is smaller than Connecticut and has about 300,000 citizens, shares a huge natural gas field with Iran, whose proceeds have given its people a per-capita income of more than $90,000 per year, one of the world’s highest, according to the C.I.A. World Factbook.

Updated 

Sept. 9, 2021, 5:59 p.m. ET

Qatar has used that money to bankroll and promote its view of the region — one that includes political Islamists — through Al Jazeera, the Arab satellite network it owns, and to field the successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup. Along the way, it has maintained ties with a range of Islamist groups, including the Palestinian militants Hamas in Gaza, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

These ties have proved useful to the West, which has leaned on them to negotiate hostage releases in countries such as Syria. And Qatar hosted peace talks with the Taliban, which opened an office in Doha in 2013, with tacit permission from the United States.

The Trump administration’s agreement with the Taliban setting a timetable for the American withdrawal was signed in Doha last year. And since the American embassy in Kabul was evacuated last month, the United States has moved its Afghan diplomatic operations to Doha.

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