Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: Qatar takes diplomatic back seat

The Arab League’s welcoming back of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad into its ranks highlights how far behind Qatar has fallen in its bid to be a diplomatic voice that carries weight in the Middle East. Earlier this month Qatar reluctantly withdrew its opposition to Saudi Arabia’s initiative to readmit Syria. It made clear it opposed normalizing its own ties with Damascus but said it would not stand in the way of an Arab consensus. The dismay in the diplomatic mission in Doha of a Syrian opposition group, which Qatar recognises as Syria’s official embassy to the state, was a stark reminder of the shifting tides. “Qatar did not accept this decision, but they did not stand in the way,” Belal Tourkya, the mission’s chargé d’affaires, told Reuters. (https://neuters.de/world/middle-east/qatar-takes-diplomatic-back-seat-saudi-flexes-political-muscle-2023-05-18/) Analysts say the change in Doha’s position on Syria is a sign it may be dialing back on its once-ambitious regional foreign policy to avoid raising the ire of its most powerful neighbours.

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