Why is Qatar unlikely to withdraw from Gaza ceasefire talks?

Mark Schiefelbein/Reuters

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani at Lusail Palace in Doha, Qatar, on February 6.


Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
CNN

The Arab State of Qatar announced this week that it is Reconsider its role As the main mediator between Israel and Hamas, it was a public declaration of frustration over criticism of its ties to the Palestinian militant group.

Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said on Wednesday that Qatari mediation efforts are being misused to achieve “narrow political interests” by some participants in the conflict, “which requires the State of Qatar to conduct a comprehensive assessment” of its efforts. The role of mediation.

Al Thani said in a press conference in Doha: “There are limits to this role, and limits to our ability to participate constructively in these negotiations,” adding that his country is obliged to do so even though the hostage ceasefire talks are taking place “with sensitivity and precision.” A sensitive stage.”

But analysts say it is unlikely that the Gulf state will completely withdraw from the talks.

Qatar, a close ally of the United States, is coordinating with Washington and Egypt to secure the release of more than 100 Israeli hostages in Gaza, as well as an end to the conflict. Israel war In the region.

Qatar was criticized by Israel and its allies in the US Congress, who accused the Gulf state of being too close to the extremist organization, and even… ban Negotiations progress. Doha has repeatedly responded to these accusations since the beginning of the conflict.

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Some analysts They say that Qatar is the only interlocutor capable of reaching an agreement because of its relations with Hamas and its alliance with the United States. Qatar hosts the political office of Hamas, but it also hosts a US military base with a strength of 10,000 soldiers.

Experts say that Qatar is unlikely to end its mediation role.

“I think they will try to help and mediate as long as they can,” said Anna Jacobs, senior Gulf analyst at the Brussels-based International Crisis Group, adding that Qatar was concerned about the criticism directed at it. American politicians. “They had to confront it for a while,” Jacobs told CNN.

Daniel Schick, a former Israeli diplomat, said he doubted that Qatar would withdraw from this role. “I think they are really enjoying the spotlight,” Shek told the Israeli news outlet i24NewsHe added that while there are other players who could mediate, Qatar has the “best position to play in these negotiations.”

Qatar has maintained a relationship with Hamas since 2012, after falling out with some of its Arab neighbors for their support of demonstrators seeking to overthrow regimes in several Arab countries during the Arab Spring.

Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty Images

Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani held a press conference with his Turkish counterpart in Doha on Wednesday.

While American and Israeli politicians have been raising criticism of Qatar since the beginning of the October 7 war, the Gulf state appeared to have had enough this week, accusing some politicians of exploiting the conflict to support election campaigns at home.

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Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani: “We are witnessing political outbidding by some politicians with narrow political gains who are launching their election campaigns by insulting the role of Qatar.” He said in a press conference on Wednesday.

“This is absolutely unacceptable, to be told things in closed meetings and then make harmful and unhelpful statements,” the Prime Minister said.

Israel has been questioning Qatar's role in the talks for months. In a leaked audio recording from January, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is heard saying that Doha’s role was “problemMajid Al-Ansari, spokesman for the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that his government was “appalled” by the comment and accused Netanyahu of “obstructing and undermining the mediation process for reasons that appear to serve his political career.”

On April 8, James Comer, Republican Chairman of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, said: I sent a message to Attorney General Merrick Garland, alleging that Qatar has paid Hamas “$30 million per month since 2018.”

“Qatar does not pay Hamas.” Qatari Embassy in Washington, DC X answered the next day, adding that “misinformation” was not useful for negotiations.

And Monday, a Democratic US Congressman Steny Hoyer It accused Qatar of “obstructing” progress in the talks.

Jacobs says that it is important to note which American politicians are directing the criticism, adding that “many in Washington see the value of Hamas' relationship (with Qatar) and feel that if Qatar ends its role, this will be harmful and unhelpful.” “.

US President Joe Biden in November He expressed his thanks to the State of Qatar for its assistance in reaching a humanitarian truce that allowed humanitarian aid to arrive launch For some hostages.

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Qatar is considered one of the United States' closest allies in the Gulf region. It is home to Al Udeid Air Base, the largest US military facility in the region and home to more than 10,000 US soldiers. Earlier this year, The United States has quietly reached an agreement to extend its military presence at a sprawling base in Qatar for another 10 years. The Gulf state was also a major non-NATO ally, as well as a major energy supplier to Western countries.

Although it has been criticized for sending hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Hamas-ruled Gaza over the years, it has done so with Israel's blessing, and with the knowledge of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, CNN previously reported.

Jacobs said the Qatari prime minister's decision to evaluate the country's role in the talks was seen as “a way to highlight that they are frustrated with that criticism.”

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