By Stephen Eric Bronner and Eric Gozlan
Co-Directors of the International Council for Diplomacy and Dialogue (www.icdd.info)
Qatar has become a key player in the Afghan crisis regarding negotiations between Washington and the Taliban, and for its help in evacuation efforts. However, Qatar plays a complicated game: it welcomes Islamist movements and simultaneously hosts the largest American military base outside the United States.
This has been going on for many years. Sheikh Hamad explained his country's policy in an interview with the Financial Times on October 24, 2010: "Our policy is to be friends with everyone. We seek peace. This does not mean that if two camps want to fight each other, we have to take sides with one of them, no we like to be in liaison with both parties."
On the occasion of the first anniversary of the Abraham Accords, we at ICDD decided to focus on the relationship between Qatar and Israel; we also believe that Qatar will soon become party to that agreement. Relations between Qatar and Israel have existed - off and on --for nearly 30 years: What follows is a brief history of those ties.
1993: Meetings between Shimon Peres and the Qatari Ambassador to the United Nations took place while the Oslo agreements were being signed.
1993: Qatari Foreign Minister Hamad Bin Jasmen (discreetly) worked to better ties between Doha and Israel via the directors of ENRON (an American company close to the pro-Israeli lobby). This company had a project for a pipeline that would link Doha to Haifa where a degasification terminal would be built to export raw materials to Europe. Following the bankruptcy of Enron, the project was terminated.
1995: The Crown Prince of Qatar, Sheikh Jassem Ben Hamad al-Thani, attended the funeral of Yitzhak Rabin
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