Qatar

I've long been fascinated with Qatar's foreign policy in recent years, which appears to be driven by a need to hedge its bets (hosting a US military base, good relations with Iran, funding al-Jazeera, pissing off the Saudis every now and then...) and the personalities of its emir and his cousin the foreign minister. Here are some recent articles that highlight how perilous the acrobatic acts from Doha are starting to look like, particularly as we see a major Egyptian-Saudi push for "Arab unity" at the upcoming Doha summit (unity, that is, behind the Egyptian initiative to reconcile Hamas and Fatah, with the latter having the upper hand.) All this as gas prices plummet and sovereign funds pause to take stock of the global financial crisis...


That last article points out Qatar is still set to see high GDP growth and is secure as the world's first supplier of liquified natural gas. Still, if European demand significantly weakens, and the infant world LNG market hits its first glut.

One thing that's still not clear to me is the answer to the question -- beyond remaining secure from Saudi influence - what does Qatar want?
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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.