The Media Line: ‘Poisonous Symbiotic Relations’: Qatar Straddles Lines of Conflict, Cooperation in Mideast Diplomacy 


‘Poisonous Symbiotic Relations’: Qatar Straddles Lines of Conflict, Cooperation in Mideast Diplomacy 

Doha’s multifaced foreign policy, while sometimes effective, might be the reason why it has not been able to bring real results to the table as a mediator between Israel and Hamas 

By Debbie Mohnblatt/The Media Line 

Qatar has emerged as a pivotal mediator between Israel and Hamas in the ongoing conflict between the two parties. Even as Qatar helps mediate negotiations, the Gulf state has also been accused of promoting anti-Israeli and antisemitic narratives through official remarks, reporting from Qatari-owned news outlet Al Jazeera, and the financial support of protest movements. Experts say that this seeming contradiction is part of Doha’s foreign policy strategy, characterized by playing all sides while prioritizing its own interests. 

Qatar’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Majed Al Ansari told Israel’s KAN News over the weekend that the hostages were in increasing danger with each passing day without an agreement, attributing the delays to “narrow political considerations.” He expressed Qatar’s dissatisfaction with the commitment levels of both Israel and Hamas, stating, “Both Israel and Hamas can do more to reach a deal now.” He revealed that Qatar was reconsidering its role in mediation due to doubts about the seriousness of the involved parties. “We are doing all that we can right now, and we need more pressure on both sides in order to reach a deal,” he said. 

On Monday, Essa Al-Nassr, a member of the legislative council, the Consultative Assembly of Qatar, addressed an Arab League session. His remarks led to accusations of antisemitism and incitement to violence and terrorism. 

There will be no peace nor negotiations with the Zionist entity for one reason: because their mentality does not recognize negotiations, but rather only … breaking promises and lying. … They only recognize one thing, which is killings, since they are killers of prophets,” he said, repeating a common antisemitic trope. 

Despite remarks such as these, and despite Qatar’s involvement in spreading an anti-Israel narrative across US university campuses and on mainstream and social media, Qatar remains a central mediator between Israel and Hamas. 

Why Qatar as a Mediator 

Qatar is perceived in Israel as a reasonable mediator, as an actor that actually can bring results to the table,” Ariel Admoni, Qatar researcher and doctoral candidate at Israel’s BarIlan University, told The Media Line. 

From the American and Israeli perspective, Admoni said, antisemitic remarks and anti-Israel advocacy from Qatar are seen as “the cost of doing business.” He said that Qatar pursues anti-Israel activism as a way to please the public and attract attention. Despite that activism, Israel sees Qatar as the actor most poised to broker a deal to bring back the hostages. 

Omri Brinner, a UK-based geopolitical and terror financing consultant and a research fellow at the International Team for the Study of Security in Verona, Italy, told The Media Line that Qatar is Israel’s only viable option as a mediator since Qatar has full access to Hamas’ leadership and significant leverage over Hamas. 

While Qatar is a sympathizer of the Muslim Brotherhood and of Islamic regimes, it also wishes to maintain and strengthen its status as a legitimate and moderate actor, he said. 

Some other possible mediators, such as Egypt and Turkey, do not hold the same strategic weight Qatar does, Brinner said. Both countries are significantly poorer than Qatar, he explained. Beyond that, “Turkey is too anti-Israeli to be trusted to be an honest broker by Israel, and Egypt is too anti-Hamas to be considered as an honest broker by Hamas,” he said. 

Qatar is seen to promote some Israeli interests despite the country’s antisemitic and anti-Israel advocacy, allowing it to come across as an honest broker. “I can describe the relations as poisonous symbiotic relations,” Brinner said. 

Doha’s Multifaced Foreign Policy 

Admoni explained that Qatar does not see a contradiction between its promotion of anti-Israel narratives and its choice to maintain relations with Israel. “Al Jazeera, antisemitic remarks, and terror funding are just the other side of the coin of Qatari foreign policy, to attract attention, to be an influencer in the region,” he said. 

Qatar’s claim, which makes perfect sense, is that it is playing with both sides to secure its existence, Brinner said, attributing this strategy to Qatar’s vulnerability in the region. 

He explained that Doha aims to position itself as an indispensable actor for both sides, aiming to maintain relations with the pro-stability coalition led by Saudi Arabia—which includes the UAE, Jordan, Morocco, Egypt, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority—as well as the Iran-led Axis of Resistance, which includes the Syrian regime, Hizbullah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen, Shia militias in Iraq, and Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Palestinian territories. 

Qatar, despite its wealth, is a tiny country in a highly volatile and contested area. It can be crushed in a day by the larger forces in the region, Brinner said. Qatar’s attempt to become indispensable to the countries around it is part of an effort to secure its future, he explained. 

Admoni described Qatari foreign policy as “a sophisticated game.” 

Its all done at the same time,he said, noting that while Qatar is mediating between Israel and Hamas, the emir visited Nepal and Bangladesh and the finance minister met with high-ranking officials in the US banking system. 

Qatar is not committed to any side, he explained. “They are committed only to themselves,he stressed. 

According to Brinner, Qatar’s confidence in its strategy of playing all sides was bolstered after the Gulf Cooperation Council lifted its blockade on Qatar in 2021, leaving Qatar with the upper hand. 

Lack of Success in Breaking a Deal 

Brinner said that Qatar is likely not the party to blame for the lack of a permanent cease-fire and hostage-release deal. “Both Israel and Hamas believe they can improve their positions dramatically, so neither side is willing to make compromises that would suffice for the other side. I don’t think there’s a better mediator on the state level,” he said. 

Admoni, on the other hand, said that Qatars two-faced foreign policy might be part of the problem. We can see the fact that during the negotiation, Qatar talked with Israeli officials, but at the same time attacked them in press conferences, he said. 

He also noted that Qatari news outlets are attacking the US relentlessly, even as the US and Qatar seem to have grown closer than ever. 

“Qatar takes care only for itself and for that reason, I think that some of the actors in the region don’t like the Qatari attitude,” he said, pointing out that Tunisia lately refused financial aid from Doha. 

“Maybe this is the reason that they weren’t able to bring more results in terms of a hostage deal,” he said, he said, noting that while the Qatari approach occasionally succeeds, there is a false belief in Israel and the US that Qatar completely controls Hamas and can dictate its actions. “Many Hamas officials will not simply follow Qatar’s wishes,” he observed. He pointed to Yahya Sinwar, the Hamas chief in the Gaza Strip, as an example; Sinwar shows appreciation for Qatar’s financial support but does not always comply with its directives. “Reports over the years have indicated that Sinwar and Qatar often clashed. Similarly, other Hamas officials have had disagreements with Qatar,” he continued. 

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