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Demystifying Qatar’s Pro-Revolution Monarchy: Old Rivalries, New Geopolitical Motives

Unlike other Arab monarchies, Qatar has embraced a supportive position toward the Arab revolutions since the moment they broke out in late 2010. In fact, Qatar’s Al Jazeera network was an essential media mobilizer for the Arab masses and a major promoter of the revolutionary change process in the region, hosting pro-revolution Arab intellectuals, and broadcasting pro-reform messages. Qatar welcomed the Tunisian Revolution, financially backed the country in its transitional stage, and behaved the same with the subsequent Egyptian and Yemeni cases. What’s more, Qatar made efforts to encourage both Arab and international support for humanitarian interventions in Libya and Syria, and generously backed the revolutionary forces there both financially and militarily. Given the fact that Qatar’s political system is of the conservative-monarchic type, this paper aims to review the dynamics and geopolitical interests that drove Doha to embrace a pro-change policy in the region during the Arab Spring, with a view to better understanding what has become known as the ‘Qatari Oxymoron’ or ‘Qatari Exceptionalism,’ and the ensuing dynamics that led to the Gulf crisis of 2017 –the most difficult crisis among the GCC states since the organization’s establishment in 1981.

Demystifying Qatar s Pro-Revolution Monarchy Old Rivalries New Geopolitical Motives
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani (R) meets with Head of the Taliban’s Political Bureau in Qatar Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar (L) in Doha, Qatar on August 17, 2021. QATARI FOREIGN MINISTRY/AA
 

 

 

 

Introduction

 

Throughout history, monarchies have been largely skeptical of revolutionary change taking place within their geopolitical reach, with the majority positioning themselves in opposition to the revolutionary movements promoting such change. Since the French Revolution (1789), the Bolshevik Revolution (1917), and the Iranian Revolution (1979), international factors have played a crucial role in the success or failure of various revolutions. Exporting revolutionary ideas and principles abroad has been the most critical issue of concern to the neighbors of revolutionary countries, especially monarchies, prompting them in some cases to establish counter-revolutionary coalitions with a view to foiling these movements, or at least containing them.

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