Wednesday, June 4, 2014

'Qatar pays the price of overreach'

"... Qatar’s star has appeared to wane as the geopolitics of the Middle East have turned against it. Soon after Sheikh Tamim took power, Egypt’s Islamist government – which Qatar supported, financially and politically – was ousted in a military coup, shattering Doha’s regional strategy. The low returns from Qatar’s investment in Syria’s rebel movement also became increasingly apparent as the opposition failed to alter the dynamics of the war.This week Doha was swept into a more high profile controversy amid allegations that the 2022 Fifa World Cup – the event that was to cement its new international status — had been bought through bribery....Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian strongman that Doha has tried to unseat, staged an election on Tuesday to underline his staying power and the feebleness of his opponents. The Syria poll followed another vote in Egypt that crowned Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi – the ex-military chief who led last year’s coup – as president.As the politics of the region have shifted, Sheikh Tamim has been embroiled in an unusually public spat with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Determined to put an end to the spread of Islamist politics across the region, Qatar’s rivals have gone on the offensive, essentially demanding that the Doha ruler follow their lead. Tensions appear to have eased in recent weeks but people familiar with the details of the dispute say differences between the Gulf neighbours could easily flare up again.Also troubling for Qatar is that after raising its profile in the region, it has turned into a convenient target to blame for everything that goes wrong in the Middle East. Even the most benign of intervention can provoke suspicion...."

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