Reflecting on Qatar’s Islamist Soft Power

by Yomna Soliman

Author: David B. Roberts

Affiliation: King’s College London

Organization/Publisher: The Brookings Institution

Date/Place: April 2019, Doha.

Type of Literature: Report

Number of Pages:13


Keywords: Qatar, Islamists, Soft power, Middle East, and Foreign Policy.



The article analyses the Qatari foreign policy in the Middle East through focusing on its “soft power” perspective especially by examining its links with Islamist actors in the region. The author poses a main question which is “how and why Qatar is extremely involved with Islamists as a means of statecraft?” The article argues that the main explanation behind Qatar’s tendency to promote its Islamist links emanates from a “combination of convenience, pragmatism, and opportunism”. The article starts with highlighting the Qatari relations with the Islamists in many countries. Then, it provides an analysis of Qatar’s foreign policy which is, accordingly, based on a “twin-track approach” combining ‘U.S protection’ along with abstaining from being totally dependent on the U.S. Following that, it proposes an overview of Qatari soft power tools toward the region. It concludes that Qatar has been deeply involved with various Islamist groups through the MENA region; however, this involvement or even support does not indicate an Islamist tendency in the Qatar’s foreign policy or that it may be a strategic end. Rather, it can be considered a means to a broader end, which is to play a critical role in its region despite of, its limited geography and population. This conclusion is based on four pieces of evidences which are the limited Islamic establishment in Qatar, its international partnership in dealing with these Islamist groups or its “intermediary role”, the secular approaches followed in many domestic policies, and the Qatari opportunism to benefit from the regional circumstances after the Arab spring to spread itstheir influence. 


By: Yomna Süleyman, CIGA Research Assistant 

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