By Melanie Sauter
April 12, 2017
Qatar, which The Economist described as a ‘pygmy with the punch of a giant,’ is trying to facilitate another prominent peace agreement in a conflict that is deemed to have little hope of resolution in sight. Last year, Qatar started to host secret talks in Doha between the Taliban and the Afghan government.
Despite its small size, the emirate has become an important shaper and influencer in the Middle East. Qatar craves a high profile in the international political arena. Since it officially adopted mediation as a foreign policy strategy in 2003, until the unrests of 2011, Qatar made itself a name as an honest broker of peace across the Middle East and in parts of Africa. In 2003, Qatar adopted a new constitution, which institutionalized the mediation strategy: “The foreign policy of the State is based on the principle of strengthening international peace and security by means of encouraging peaceful resolution of international disputes…” This makes Qatar one of the few nations in the world that explicitly states “peaceful resolution” of disputes in its constitution.
Melanie Sauter is a graduate student in Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Oslo. She is a blog editor at “Foraus”, the Swiss think tank on foreign policy, and a member of the research group “Politics in the MENA Region” at the International Association for Political Science Students. Her previous experience includes work with local NGOs in Ethiopia and Ghana, and with the UN Secretariat in New York.