Qatar and Libya: Diminishing Returns
The tiny, gas-rich emirate of Qatar has pursued an increasingly muscular foreign policy in the greater Middle East during recent years. Perhaps nowhere has Qatar’s engagement been as consequential as in Libya, where Qatari support for the rebels, both on the ground and in international bodies, was critical to securing their victory over Qadhafi’s forces in August 2011. However, the story of Qatar’s engagement in Libya since the end of the civil war is one of diminishing returns. Since 2011, Qatar’s policies have become controversial as Libyans have begun to perceive Qatari influence as supportive of the Islamist militias who have carried out acts of violence and undermined the central state’s authority. Qatar has since assumed a less visible role in Libyan politics, but its heavy investment in the new Libyan order to date suggests that Qatar will continue to have a strong stake in the outcome of Libya’s troubled post-Qadhafi transition.
Background on Qatar’s Foreign Policy Activism
In June 2014, Qatar made global headlines when it became the host for five former Afghan Taliban Guantanamo detainees, released as part of an exchange that led to the freeing of an American soldier held in Afghanistan for five years. This followed a decade of increasing international engagement during which Qatar emerged as one of the world’s leading mediators, most notably in Yemen, Sudan, and Lebanon. Since 2010, Qatar has also brokered meetings between Western officials and representatives of the Afghan Taliban, and eventually allowed the Taliban to open a representative office in Doha.
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