As the prominent leader of the Taliban, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar had to flee after the American attack on Afghanistan 20 years ago – and now he’s back as a figure: Qatar’s Air Force Baradar flew from Doha for the last time. week. Qatar views its involvement in the Afghan conflict as a foreign policy investment that should pay off in relations with the United States and in competition with other Gulf states. Critics accuse the emirate of promoting international terrorism.
Since 2018, Baradar has led Taliban representation in Qatar as chief negotiator for Islamic extremists in talks with the United States and with the Afghan government, which has since been stripped of power. Last year, Baradar signed a peace agreement with the United States in Doha. The Taliban’s quick seizure of power was a waste of paper. When Qatar allowed the Taliban to open an office in Doha in 2013, it did so with US support. Washington was looking for a location to negotiate with the radical Islamic militias in order to be able to prepare for the withdrawal of forces.
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The relationship between Qatar and the guests was not smooth. Soon after the Taliban office opened, a row erupted because the Taliban raised their flag in front of their villa in Doha and described the building as representing the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan”. This upset the Afghan government at the time so much that it halted the planned negotiations in Doha. Then the Taliban closed their offices for years. It wasn’t until the summer of 2018 that envoys from the militia and the US government finally met in the Qatari capital.
Qatar has gained a lot of international attention with its tumultuous foreign policy
The wealthy emirate – Qatar has huge reserves of natural gas – has long annoyed its Arab neighbors with its money-spending foreign policy and unwilling to subordinate itself to regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia. The government in Doha supports the Muslim Brotherhood, maintains good relations with Iran and helps Turkey confront its economic crisis with billions of dollars.
Qatar, with a population of less than three million and smaller than Schleswig-Holstein, has attracted a lot of international attention due to its tumultuous foreign policy. Just a few days ago, Chancellor Angela Merkel called Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. German negotiator on Afghanistan Markus Potzel traveled to Doha last week to talk with the Taliban about the departure of local Afghan staff.
However, Qatari politics is not popular everywhere. Other Gulf states accuse the emirate of interfering in conflicts beyond its national borders, as well as supporting Islamic extremism and upgrading extremist groups such as the Taliban. In 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt boycotted Qatar, but it failed to achieve its goal: the dispute was settled at the beginning of the year without any concessions from Qatar.
Even after the fall of Kabul, Qatar sees no reason for a more modest foreign policy. Like its Emirati rival, Doha is currently accepting members of the ousted Afghan government to remain in business in future negotiations. In addition, the Qatari Embassy in Kabul is assisting in the evacuation of local Afghan workers from Western countries. At the same time, the emirate is involved in the ongoing dispute between Israel and the Palestinians. After the latest fighting in the Gaza Strip in May, the emirate plans to provide $500 million for the reconstruction of Gaza.
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