The change in the Qatari foreign policy has probably strengthened the thesis of the Lebanese political analyst Ghassan Salameh, who predicted in one of his lectures that there will be more regionalization of politics, signalling less influence of major powers.

The change in the Qatari foreign policy has probably strengthened the thesis of the Lebanese political analyst Ghassan Salameh, who predicted in one of his lectures that there will be more regionalization of politics, signalling less influence of major powers.

While US support of Qatar has made it the political arm and the logistic outlet of the Pentagon in the region and allowed it to assume a strategic location in US foreign policy, backed by its surplus of enormous financial capabilities, the rapid increase of the Qatari political role and influence is doomed to collide with the Saudi influence.  

Saudi Arabia, which studied politics and intelligence in the Anglo-Saxon tradition, embraced decades ago, political paths similar to those embraced by Qatar today. However, taking these paths was done in a completely different way because it established its international relations nearly half a century before the independence of Qatar, Bahrain, UAE, Oman, and others and it was able to reflect itself as the strong partner of major powers.  

This partnership took the shape of sharing the same financial values  as represented by oil trading and in this aspect, the US has been the frontrunner since the 1930s. There is also a partnership in originality and class values, a value used by the new princesses with Britain, through the formation of a mental image based on class friendships between the two royal families, marked by polo matches, horse racing and joint hunting trips. This has insinuated that there are peer relations and similarities in traditions between the UK and Western Kingdoms.

This is not a realistic image, but it became a reality in the minds of the Western society, and it has reflected itself on more than one occasion on the political relationship between the two kingdoms. The latest was when Prince Charles pressured Cameron to investigate the Muslim Brotherhood’s activities in Britain, after his visit to Saudi princes during which time he attended the famous traditional Saudi dance known as “Arda” performed in the opening of the al-Janadriyah Festival, wearing traditional Saudi attire and waving the sword.

This leads us to the third value: the international influence and regional influence.  Saudi Arabia did not fully adhere to major powers, although it did make some compromises and provided logistic services to those powers within the framework of political and military balances, but it was able to establish some adherents to it from among the countries of the region, a value which Egypt has lost while Saudi Arabia was able to develop.

Moreover, its real regional value has enabled it to play with all international parties such as Britain and the US as well as with Russia, the reserve bank of its foreign policy and which is much admired historically by Saudi Arabia because it was the first country to recognize the new Saudi state in 1926. This is in addition to its relations with Europe, which were characterized by balanced positions, especially with France, which had tensed relations with Saudi Arabia but these relations were improved by Charles de Gaulle at the end of the 1960’s. 

Its relations with Germany continued to flourish since the signing of the friendship treaty in 1929. Thus, Saudi Arabia was able to take advantage of these relations to maintain its long-term soft influence in the Arab region and sometimes coarse relations in the area extending from Lebanon to Yemen and from Egypt to Morocco, passing through Libya.

These roles are hard to be played by youthful countries. Small countries may have strong activity in foreign policy, but it’s hard for them to play a sustainable regional role.  If we focus on regional countries such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran, as well as Egypt in the past, we find that they share a number of pillars: most of them have big geographical areas, they have a large population compared to their neighboring countries, most of them became independent and joined the international community at an early stage, and they have accumulated experience in foreign policy in days of war and peace.

Hence, it is important to correct the vision of those who believe that there is an UAE-Qatari conflict in the region and especially in Libya because in reality there is a US-Saudi conflict – a conflict between a major country and a regional state. The most prominent features of this conflict were reflected in the Egyptian scene and the most prominent settling of account has taken place behind the curtains of the Gulf Cooperation Council. The change in the Qatari foreign policy gives preliminary results that the regional power won the battle and defeated the international power.  

In addition, the US became exhausted from playing the international role which has made it enter into a spiral that has drained its budget and shaken its image as the world’s policeman. Thus, it abandoned some of its international roles and enhanced its regional one in the Americas. One of the most important results of this new role is the US-Cuban rapprochement, which will eliminate the last features of communism in Latin America.

Some Gulf States have envied Qatar for its position in the GCC, but today there is no country that is envious of Qatar. Thus, I expect that the political trend will decrease and the developmental one will increase in this country, if we accept the argument that the US, through Qatar, did not take the national stream as a replacement of the Islamic stream. 

The national thought, throughout the last period, was the shadow balance in the Qatari media discourse, which was strengthened by the political Islam streams.  Moreover, the rise of Azmi Bishara, who is a pan-Arab, with institutional Qatari support in politics and the media, and his appointment in an advanced consultation role in the Emiri Diwan, a pan-Arab, at the expense of Hilal Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the former spiritual engine of the Qatari mission, raises several questions. Most important among these is: will Qatar repeat its dramatic experience to make yesterday’s ally tomorrow’s victim?

If this is true, it is easy to predict the new allies in the Arab region, but the question is who the hoped regional ally in Libya might be?