QATAR … A small state with global ambition
There are two factors that have shaped Qatar’s integration and place in the international system. The first revolves around the constraints and problems of small states while the second is Qatar’s response — a strategy of branding the state for survival. (J.E. Peterson)
In the realm of public diplomacy, there are two strategies that small states often pursue as a means of gaining greater recognition in the international arena: niche diplomacy and nation branding. In many ways, these two strategies dovetail insofar as they are both predicated on specialization. Nation branding builds on niche diplomacy as it takes the niche and cements that ...view middle of the document...
Yet tensions would escalate further following a coup that saw the present emir take power. On June 27, 1995, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani carried out a bloodless palace coup to replace his father, Khalifa, who had ruled Qatar for the previous 23 years. The coup was a source of consternation between the new regime and its neighbors like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, who were seen as still backing the former emir and giving shelter to his supporters.
To help allay its vulnerability, the new regime pursued new avenues of soft and hard power means. Being cognizant of the challenges it faced as a small actor vying for attention in a contested area, Qatar also began to implement a concentrated public diplomacy branding strategy that highlights its strengths as a maverick in the region and its focus on the niche of conflict mediation. Furthermore, Qatar has used its immense oil and natural gas wealth in the form of “checkbook diplomacy” as a way to not only buy influence, but also raise its public diplomacy stature and enhance its conflict mediation efforts.
Since the 1995 the leader of the small state of Qatar, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, has attempted to craft an innovative diplomatic role. Shifting Qatar’s foreign policy agenda away from his father’s acquiescence to Saudi hegemony in the region, Emir Al-Thani has tried to lever the attributes of his small state as a source of strength. Al-Thani has brought Western economic and political reforms to Qatar, including universal suffrage and extensive economic liberalization and deregulation.
Qatari leaders have courted regional radicals, flirted with ‘rejectionist’ causes, and upheld a critical Arab media. As the academic architect of the ‘soft power’ concept, Professor Joseph Nye, had noted: "Qatar has managed to find an important diplomatic niche between the West and the Arab nationalist mainstream, which it backs up with its considerable financial resources.”.
Qatar has played a unique diplomatic role in the Middle East as peace broker and regional moderate, balancing an appeal to Arab populist causes and extending a hand to Israel. Using its UN Security Council seat to play an expanded role in the region and world, Qatari actions never followed simple alliance structures. Instead, as a maverick it mediated and intervened in regional affairs where state interests were not clear and success was uncertain. Yet, Qatar keeps its allies and its enemies even closer as home of the US Central Command, Al-Jazeera, and to numerous regional exiles and radicals.
Qatar’s most impressive diplomatic achievement has been the initiation of Al-Jazeera media network in 1996, a first in uncensored media in the Arab world. Al-Jazeera is, technically, privately owned, but Qatar’s Al-Thani family has financially supported the media network as Al-Jazeera faces continued financial constraints. Al Jazeera broadcasts 24 hour news in Arabic throughout the Middle East and since 2006 has added an English news...