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For anyone who has been following Qatari foreign policy over the past decade, or has had a chance to read Article 7 of the country’s 2003 constitution, which explicitly states that the country should strive to be an international peacemaker, Doha’s recent attempts to mediate between Israel and Hamas should come as no surprise. Mediation has been the stock-in-trade of recent Qatari foreign policy; it made similar diplomatic forays in Yemen in 2007 and 2008, Lebanon in 2008, and Sudan in 2009 and 2010.
The political context underlying Qatar’s latest diplomatic intervention, however, has exposed the risks inherent in its broader strategy. Doha’s foray into Gaza comes amid a heated Saudi–Iranian proxy war across the Middle East and an ongoing dispute within an unprecedentedly polarized Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), of which Qatar is a part. Although Qatar’s foreign policy has not changed, it is no longer going to be able to