The tiny ministate of 2.9 million citizens just due north from the western shore of the Gulf, joined on the Arabian Peninsula by a narrow border with Saudi Arabia.
Yet its role in the region’s diplomacy is stunning for a country of its size.
As an August 31 deadline approached for the United States and its allies to leave following an unexpectedly rapid advance of Taliban insurgents, Qatar helped ensure their swift but at times, tumultuous departure.
A trio of Washington Post correspondents in Doha (the capital city of Qatar) is Steve Hendrix, Liz Sly, and Kareem Fahim. They reported on September 1 that Qatar is “trying to prod the Taliban now controlling Afghanistan.”
Two immediate goals:
— to have an inclusive government that will coordinate with other Afghans and the international community.
—to continue peacemaking steps aimed at post-crisis cooperation on a way forward toward stability in the Gulf region.
One objective, among many: reopening the airport in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul. That airport had played a significant role in enabling tens of thousands of Afghans seeking to leave after the unexpected, lightning-swift Taliban takeover of their country in mid-August.
Words of wisdom from Qatari foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani
“We remain hopeful”, Mr. Al Thani said, “that we’ll be able to witness the reopening of the airport as soon as possible.”
According to VOA News, the top Qatari foreign affairs aide also stressed the need for the Taliban “to demonstrate their commitment to provide safe passage and freedom of movement for the people of Afghanistan.”
On September 2, the international humanitarian organization Action Against Hunger reported that about 12,000,000 Afghans “are facing a serious food insecurity crisis indicating alarming rates of child malnutrition.”
The 2020s: lessons from the current Gulf crisis
In its latest edition, The Economist’s lead editorial puts the challenge in a perspective frequently heard in regional discussions, particularly in this latest crisis.
“Improving governance is hard,” the Economist says, “not least since many governments vulnerable to jihad are also wracked by climate change.
“More frequent droughts add to discontent and stir conflicts over water and pasture. Donors can offer advice and cash, but ultimately, it’s up to the locals to build institutions that work.”
That appears to be a central lesson of the latest Gulf crisis. Hats off to Qatar for once again outlining a plausible way ahead. Urgent action is needed NOW, as never before.
As a 36-year veteran of the Voice of America (VOA), Alan Heil traveled to more than 40 countries a foreign correspondent in the Middle East, and later as director of News and Current Affairs, deputy director of programs, and deputy director of the nation’s largest publicly-funded overseas multimedia network. Today, VOA reaches more than 275 million people around the world each week via radio, television and online media. Read More