Quiet Qatar Plays Key Mideast Peacemaker Role

Iconoclastic emirate works to calm conflicts
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 9, 2008 3:40 AM CDT
Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, right, receives the Emir of Qatar Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, left, as he arrives in Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday, May 25, 2008.    (AP Photo/Ahmad Omar)
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(Newser) – Qatar has managed the amazing diplomatic feat of staying friendly with just about everybody in the Middle East, the New York Times writes. The tiny, oil-rich emirate, which somehow maintains close ties with Iran while also hosting an American airbase, is rapidly becoming the region's mediator. Its diplomats recently pulled Lebanon back from the brink of civil war and are pushing for more peace deals. 

Qatar, home to al-Jazeera, is trying to protect its prosperity by stabilizing the region. With an absolute monarchy and almost no domestic dissent, its diplomats are freer than most to pursue innovative policies and are becoming known for their fair-mindedness. "The idea is to try to keep everybody happy," said one former Qatari official. "Or, if we can’t, to keep everybody reasonably unhappy.”