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Qatar … a Small State with Global Ambition

  • Date Submitted: 03/13/2014 05:53 AM
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QATAR … A small state with global ambition

There are two factors that have shaped Qatar’s integration and place in the international system. The first revolves around the constraints and problems of small states while the second is Qatar’s response — a strategy of branding the state for survival. (J.E. Peterson)

In the realm of public diplomacy, there are two strategies that small states often pursue as a means of gaining greater recognition in the international arena: niche diplomacy and nation branding. In many ways, these two strategies dovetail insofar as they are both predicated on specialization. Nation branding builds on niche diplomacy as it takes the niche and cements that niche into a national image perception.
Niche diplomacy is often associated with the pursuit of small and medium states to raise their public diplomacy profile by wedding their image with a certain cause as a way to magnify their influence within global civil society.
The small, peninsular emirate Qatar, ruled by the Al Thani, family, gained its independence from its status as a British protectorate amid the decolonization of the Gulf region. Originally conceived to be part of the Gulf federation including Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, amid political squabbling, Qatar decided to pursue its own path and received its independence on September 3, 1971.

In the wake of the first Gulf War in 1991, Qatar viewed its neighbours with precarious suspicion.
“Smaller Gulf states felt vulnerable to both Saudi Arabia and Iran and always had the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait on their minds. Qatar, in particular, felt it might face a similar invasion like that of Kuwait, but the aggressor this time would be either Iran or Saudi Arabia. The conflict between Iran and Qatar over gas is almost a replica of the conflict between Kuwait and Iraq over oil before the invasion.”

It was in this unsettled environment that Qatar turned to the United States as a hard power guarantor. Yet tensions...


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