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Doha's Battle with Damascus

1:11 PM, Jul 20, 2011 • By LEE SMITH
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The U.S. embassy isn’t the only diplomatic compound that’s been stormed in Damascus. The Qatari embassy was attacked twice, compelling Doha to withdraw their ambassador last week.

Al Jazeera

But today the regime in Damascus has reportedly extended an olive branch and apologized to Qatar, a regime that was previously allied with Bashar al-Assad. Indeed, the Qatari emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani’s second of his three wives Sheikha Moza was close to Syrian first lady, fashionista Asma al-Assad. It was a friendship between the two Arab states that bought relative silence of Al Jazeera—the pan-Arab satellite network that serves as the emir’s most powerful foreign policy asset—when the Syrian uprising began back in March. However, after Al Jazeera’s tele-preacher, Muslim Brotherhood sheikh Yussuf al-Qaradawi, sided with the Syrian opposition against the regime, Damascus started heaping insults on the station and Qaradawi as well as his host in Doha. At that stage, it seems that the emir gave Al Jazeera the green light to cover the uprising and over the last several months the station has regularly featured opposition members in exile who are sharply critical of the Assad regime. 

Who knows whether Doha intends to reciprocate and make peace with Damascus? In any case, there’s little chance the Syrians will be apologizing to Washington any time soon—especially since the Obama administration can’t seem to refrain from publicly bemoaning its “lack of leverage” over the Syrians. 

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