Qatar Navigates Persian Gulf Minefield

Geography forces balancing act; gas wealth make it a player
By Lucas Laursen,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 5, 2008 7:00 PM CST
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, left, shakes hands with Qatar's Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem Al Thani, right, during in a meeting in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Feb....   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The challenges of being Qatar, a peninsular nation bordering Saudi Arabia in the Persian Gulf, could be a hint of the diplomatic discourse to come, Bloomberg reports. The emirate cannily attends to the demands of its Saudi and Iranian neighbors, and it hosts US military forces; it also has learned to use its natural-gas wealth to avoid favoring one side exclusively.

“Our ambition is to have prosperity for our people," the prime minister says. "We would like to be friendly with everyone.” That aim has had the country walking a fine line—backing terrorist group Hezbollah in its war with Israel and inviting Iran's president to a summit aren't exactly popular in Washington. "They have to be very careful," one analyst said.