Thursday, November 14, 2013

Qatar loses clout amid fading Arab Spring

    Thursday, November 14, 2013   No comments

The gas-rich Persian Gulf state, which is slightly smaller than Connecticut, wanted to host world-class sporting events; to build a network of top-tier universities and museums; and to push, tweak and manipulate regional politics to reshape the Arab world to its liking.

At the moment, that last priority isn’t going so well.

If 2011 was the tiny state’s year for victory laps — its flag flying high alongside the Libyan rebels, as the revolution there raged with Qatari support; its satellite channel Al Jazeera praised among Egyptian protesters in Tahrir Square; and everybody wanting a bag full of Qatari cash — 2013 has been a year for losses.

Qatar is taking a beating as the Arab Spring revolts, which ushered in Islamist governments in Egypt and Tunisia and empowered upstarts across the region, yield to a reassertion of power by the region’s old heavyweights.

A military coup toppled Qatar’s allies in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the new military rulers have found funding and allies in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — Qatar’s regional competitors.

Saudi Arabia also has publicly taken the lead on gulf support to Syrian rebels — a cause that Qatar was the first to champion — after the tiny state irked Western and Arab allies by sending aid to hard-line Islamists, analysts say.



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