Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Thursday, May 15, 2003

Is Qatar making a power play?

Qatari foreign minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jasem Bin Jaber al-Thani in Paris met yesterday with his Israeli counterpart Salvan Shaloum in the first meeting of its kind for Shaloum with an Arab foreign minister since he was appointed a foreign minister on February 27th.

In a press conference he had held with Sheikh Hamad, Shaloum said "this meeting gives the sign of hope to the region as a whole." He added "I do think that our meeting today might be the beginning for better relations for each Israel and Qatar and for Israel and the Arab World." Shaloum described the meeting as "an important step towards bringing peace to Israel and the Arab world."

Sheikh Hamad said that Qatar is interested to playing a role to convince Israel and the Palestinians on ending 30 months of violence and returning back to the negotiations. He said "there is no alternative for negotiations." He said "however, it is imperative for the two sides to render sacrifices." The Israeli TV said that the real value of the meeting for its symbolic value. It noted intensive contact held along last week through the Israeli envoy in Qatar, Yaqoub Haddas, that concentrated on messages from Shaloum to Sheikh Hamad urging him to convene the meeting.

With the air base and the, relatively, open support for the war in Iraq they seem to be positioning themselves to take over Saudi Arabia's role. But this move, coupled with coming political reforms, seems to indicate they are aiming higher. There is some tough competition there. Egypt holds the de facto "Voice of the Arab World" title but Jordan is trying hard to take it away. It would be interesting if little Qatar tried to finagle their way into this competition. Especially with their oil and huge natural gas reserves. Coupled with a small relatively well off population they would not be in need of the huge grants we pay to Egypt and Jordan.

< email | 5/15/2003 02:18:00 PM | link

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