Thursday, September 23, 2021

Diplomatic hub

By Detlef Prinz

The rapid tectonic shifts that are currently taking place in international politics are illustrated by the case of Afghanistan and the role of Qatar, a small country in terms of area but a big one in terms of diplomacy. Certainly, the Gulf state had to struggle with its image for a long time, not without its own doing. But now the emirate has achieved something that neither German foreign policy nor the European Union has managed.

Without Qatar’s diplomats, little would have been possible in the evacuation operation in Afghanistan. In the chaos of Kabul, Qatari diplomats risked their lives to escort Germans, Europeans and Afghans in need of protection through Taliban checkpoints. The main city of Doha was the hub for the airlift and brought thousands of people, foreigners and Afghans to safety in a short time – and housed them first in the fan and team accommodation built especially for the 2022 World Cup. After all, one might add, the working conditions of the migrants working on those very construction sites were truly deplorable for a long time. (According to reports, they have improved considerably in the meantime).

It could also be the time to give the hosts of the 2022 World Cup a chance. This would not only be a matter of diplomacy, but also a statement against the Arabophobia and Islamophobia that still resonate. After all, it would be the first World Cup in the history of world football to take place on Arab soil and in a Muslim country.

The West will definitely have to reckon with Qatar. Just as in the case of Afghanistan, Qatar’s fashionable role is helping the Taliban to replace the spirit of war with one of peace, this new approach has the potential to have a positive effect on the conflicts in Yemen, Libya or Syria. One thing is certain: since the Taliban came to power, the West will be more dependent than ever on the Emirate. Washington and Europe’s capitals should honestly acknowledge this fact and rethink their own foreign policy stance.

Detlef Prinz
is publisher of The German Times.