Doha Forum: Display of Qatar Achievements
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Doha Forum: Display of Qatar Achievements

In addition to raising the awareness about the need to implement collective wisdom to remove the hurdles ahead of the economic and political cooperation between the states with reliance on the diplomatic instruments and confront common challenges like terrorism, refugees crises, ecosystem destruction, Qatar summit is signaling Doha leaders’ special arrangements for further economic development and gaining political and social sway in the region and the world. But that is not everything. The event from the symbolic dimension brings about special achievements to the Arab emirate. The symbolic aspect of the meeting is important because it is taking place just a couple of days after 39th (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council summit was held in the Saudi capital Riyadh. The Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz sent an official invitation to the Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. But the Qatari leader declined to attend the meeting. The blockading states, led by Saudi Arabia, repeated their stances against Doha and reemphasized their 13 demands they issued last year asking the emirate to comply or remain isolated. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, and Bahrain in July 2017 abruptly severed diplomatic ties with Qatar and imposed an all-out blockade on it from sea, land, and air. The world stands against the blockading states The apparent message of the Riyadh summit to Doha was “review your policies or remain under pressure and isolation.” But Qatar conference very clearly sent to the world the message of failure of pressure policy adopted by the four Arab states. The attendance of senior officials from the region and the whole world to the conference showed that not only Doha is not isolated but also it showed a big capability to take advantage of its diplomatic, economic, geopolitical, political ideology, and media potentials to boost its international position. Additionally, the Qatari leaders have successfully exhibited the negative vision of the international community on the policies of the blockaders at a time the Saudi leadership is already under heavy international pressures. The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reiterated the need for diplomacy and dialogue to replace violence in the regional crises, adding that the Yemen war caused the worst humanitarian crisis in the present world as Saudi Arabia and its Emirati and American allies continue their heavy bombing and ground campaign and inhumane siege on the neighboring country. The Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor-Viorel Melescanu, whose country next month takes over the presidency of the European Union, also joined the Doha forum. He told the forum that the EU is working on organizing a conference to solve the Qatar crisis. He said that the conference will likely be held in the coming spring in Bucharest, Romania. The effort is a sign the Europeans intend to seriously step into the crisis while the Riyadh-Brussels relations are frayed amid arms ban on Saudi Arabia introduced by top EU power on the heels of Saudi killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, an outspoken critic of the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The news of EU entry to Qatar case will not be good to the blockading parties. The foreign ministers of Iran and Turkey, both supporting Qatar in the face of Saudi Arabia, also attended the forum. Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Tehran was ready to transfer to Doha the experience surrounding circumvention of the ban, indicating that the pressures on Qatar are not viable. Expanding economic ties with US to get further protection Yet another part of the symbolic significance of the Doha forum was the presence of Democratic American lawmakers from 13 states and meeting the emir. Their attendance displayed Doha success in weathering the pressure and gaining the upper hand for potential thaw talks with Riyadh. Lobbying in the US is an accepted and legal matter. The Congress is the home for various sides’ lobbying in the political structure. The Democrats are the power holders in the new Congress. This comes while the Democratic lawmakers are at odds with Saudi Arabia, and particularly the de facto ruler bin Salman. Last week, the Congress passed two anti-Saudi resolutions, drawing bitter protest from Riyadh. Qatar is working hard to convince the new Congress to further oppose bin Salman’s policies in the region. After all, the possibility of military action against Doha by Riyadh and Abu Dhabi may look trivial but it is never ruled out. Having this fear, Qatar highlights the Western interests as a privilege to the Western powers to keep having the West’s protection in the face of possible Saudi-Emirati hostility. These efforts are made to get the White House attention. Doha, aware of the opportunist personality of the American President Donald Trump in dealing with his allies, has told of huge investment in the American energy sector. Saad Sherida al-Kaabi, Qatar’s Energy Minister and the CEO of Qatar Petroleum, the national oil giant, has told journalists in Doha on Monday that QP is seeking to invest some $20 billion in various projects in the US over the next five years. According to the top official, Qatar is interested in projects connected to both liquefied natural gas (LNG) and natural gas supplies, as well as crude production. The plan is publicized days after Doha said it was leaving the OPEC, Oil Producing and Exporting Countries. In January, Foreign Minister of Qatar Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani during the US-Qatar economic summit announced his country’s plan to invest heftily in the US, reaching $100 billion. He said $10 billion will go to the infrastructure. Add to these the promises to expand the US Al Udeid airbase on Qatar soil with Qatari money and the negotiations to make it permanent. The Doha forum achievements empowered the Qatari leaders to resist against the Saudi-led camp and call for the necessity for reforming the Cooperation Council structure to free it from under the yoke of the Saudi imperious role. Qatar’s FM, referring to the Council’s decline, said it has “no teeth” and needs a dispute resolution mechanism.

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