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Iranian destroyer docks in Doha along with Clinton 20, February 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations, Iran, Qatar.
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Two Iranian naval ships, one destroyer and one warship, docked at Doha’s port at the invitation of the Qatari Navy. Iran’s Press TV commented on the maneuver with the usual line about how it was part of the close relations between Iran and Qatar owing to their shared border, close historical bonds, shared concerns etc etc.

It is far more interesting to note that the Qatari Navy invited these Iranian warships to Doha at the same time as US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton was in Doha castigating Iran for descending into ever more of a dictatorial, militarized and repressive state. This is a perfect example of Qatar playing the delicate game of international diplomacy. One might also be tempted to draw interesting inferences from the fact that it was ships from Iran’s regular Navy and not ships from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard that docked in Doha.

US Ambassador to Qatar in scrap with Turkish counterpart? 20, February 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations.
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During Hilary Clinton’s recent trip to Doha she conducted many, many meetings which required significant organization and good time keeping. When, therefore, her discussion with the Turkish Prime Minister sailed past its allotted 20 minutes towards nearly an hour, US Ambassador James LeBaron became ever more anxious to extricate Clinton so that they would not be late for her next meeting with Qatar’s Emir Hamad Al Thani.

However, as he sought to enter the room to inform Clinton that they needed to go, reports indicate that the Turkish Ambassador physically restrained him. Apparently, this quickly developed into something of a minor brawl between the two Ambassadors who had to be separated by staff. Other reports play down the altercation and insist that there was no physical contact between them, just a bit of banging on the door to alert Clinton and some shouting. But where’s the fun in spreading that version of events?

The Cable continues to suggest that the Turks view the formalities and protocol of events as as important as the substance. Whilst this sounds a bit orientalist, I can imagine a grain of truth in it.

Rory Stewart on advice 3, December 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Random.
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Rory Stewart, the British academic, walker, sage and genius on being asked to give advice to, amongst others, Hilary Clinton.

“It’s like they’re coming in and saying to you, ‘I’m going to drive my car off a cliff. Should I or should I not wear a seatbelt?’ And you say, ‘I don’t think you should drive your car off the cliff.’ And they say, ‘No, no, that bit’s already been decided – the question is whether to wear a seatbelt.’ And you say, ‘Well, you might as well wear a seatbelt.’ And then they say, ‘We’ve consulted with policy expert Rory Stewart and he says …’”