Hostage releases: what is Qatar's role?

During its terrorist attack on Israel, radical Islamic Hamas took more than 200 hostages. Just over two weeks after the kidnappings, first two US citizens - a mother and her daughter - then two Israeli senior citizens have been released. It appears that Egypt and Qatar were involved as mediators. Europe's press discusses this unaccustomed role for Qatar in particular.

Open/close all quotes (RO) /

Ties with all sides

The Gulf state has strengthened its reputation as an international mediator, observes

“The fact that the small Gulf state is host to both an important US military base and a number of Hamas terrorists shows that Qatar knows how to work on several fronts: it supports Islamist groups in the region, sometimes has difficult relations with its neighbours, but at the same time works closely with the West. ... Nevertheless, especially in light of the Hamas attacks on Israel, the US and other countries could now put more pressure on Qatar to adopt a tougher stance vis-à-vis some of the groups it harbours.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

A microcosm of contradictions

La Repubblica observes:

“Qatar is a tiny absolute monarchy with only 300,000 citizens, almost all of whom are related to the royal family. The country has the third largest gas field and the fourth highest per capita income in the world. A microcosm of contradictions: Qatar is host to both the largest American naval base in the Middle East and the Hamas's Politburo. It organised the last World Cup and spends 30 million euros a year on Hamas. In a bid to redeem itself in the eyes of the West, the Qatari government has become the mediator in the negotiations for the release of the hostages held by Hamas.”