Changing dynamics in the Gulf: A conversation with Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani - AEI

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Event Summary

On Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar HE Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani joined AEI to discuss recent developments in the ongoing Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) crisis and US-Qatar relations.

His Excellency began with opening remarks discussing new agreements between Qatar and the US on topics of cyber security, trade and investment, human trafficking, and joint defense. He addressed Qatar’s resilience toward the diplomatic and economic blockade spearheaded by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that began in June 2017, while calling for an immediate strategic dialogue to agree on common principles of coexistence among the GCC member states.

In a discussion with AEI’s Andrew Bowen, His Excellency shared insight into the steps necessary to move beyond the current impasse. Specifically, he stated that new principles must govern the relationship among GCC nations and that the US could take a larger role in the crisis, as much trust has been lost among GCC members in the past seven months. His Excellency further addressed regional questions regarding Iran, Yemen, Turkey, and Iraq.

The Q&A session covered issues pertaining to Al-Jazeera, terror finance, and the result of the US-Qatar strategic dialogue.

–Taylor Clausen

Event Description

Once an important mechanism for cooperation, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) since June 2017 has been fractured with one member state, Qatar, the focus of a diplomatic and economic blockade spearheaded by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. A Kuwaiti-led mediation process has not resolved the crisis, at a time when Russia’s reemergence in the Middle East, the growing influence of disinformation campaigns, and Iran’s ongoing malign activities all suggest that deeper challenges lie ahead. Who benefits from this standoff between traditional American allies? What are the implications of a continuing crisis in the GCC for the region and for US partnerships?

Join Andrew Bowen and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar HE Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani as they discuss US-Qatar relations and the challenges confronting the Gulf region.

Join the conversation on social media with @AEI on Twitter and Facebook.


8:45 AM

9:00 AM
Introductory remarks:
Danielle Pletka, AEI

9:10 AM
Moderated discussion:
Andrew Bowen, AEI
HE Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, State of Qatar

9:50 AM

10:00 AM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Taylor Clausen at [email protected], 202.862.5848.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829


HE Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani was appointed minister of foreign affairs in 2016 and deputy prime minister in 2017. In his current role as deputy prime minister and foreign minister, he is responsible for all Ministry of Foreign Affairs issues including planning and implementing foreign policy, maintaining strategic bilateral and multilateral relations, and leading mediation efforts. In 2013, His Excellency was appointed as the assistant foreign minister for international cooperation affairs. His policies focused on promoting multilateral cooperation and implementing the development and aid agenda of the state of Qatar. In 2012 he earned the rank of undersecretary. He was also appointed director of the Department of Public and Private Sectors Partnership at the Ministry of Business and Trade, where he launched Enterprise Qatar — an organization that provides technical and financial support for small and medium-sized enterprises. His Excellency was the director of economic affairs at the Supreme Council for Family Affairs from 2005 until 2009. He holds a degree in economics and business administration from Qatar University.

Andrew J. Bowen is a visiting scholar at AEI, where he focuses on Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states and Middle East energy. He also advises Greenmantle, an economic and geopolitical advisory firm. Before joining AEI, Dr. Bowen was a global fellow in the Middle East Program at the Wilson Center and a senior fellow and director of Middle East studies for the Center for the National Interest. Earlier, he was director of the Levant Program for the Center for the Middle East and the Baker Institute Scholar for the Middle East at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy. Dr. Bowen has been widely published, including in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Beast, The National Interest, Al Arabiya, and His book “US-Syrian Relations: Security Cooperation in Regional Conflicts” (Palgrave Macmillan) is expected in the spring of 2018. He has a Ph.D. in international relations and an M.Sc. in the history of international relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science in the United Kingdom. His bachelor degree in political science is from Rice University.

Danielle Pletka is senior vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at AEI, where she oversees the Institute’s work on foreign and defense issues. Ms. Pletka writes regularly on national security matters with a special focus on Iran, the Middle East (Syria, Israel, ISIS), and South Asia. She is also an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service. Before joining AEI, Ms. Pletka was a longtime senior professional staff member for the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, where she specialized in the Near East and South Asia as the point person on the Middle East, Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan. Ms. Pletka has authored, coauthored, and coedited a variety of studies, monographs, and book chapters, including the report “Tehran Stands Atop the Syria-Iran Alliance” (Atlantic Council, 2017); the chapter “America in Decline” in “Debating the Obama Presidency” (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016); “America vs. Iran: The Competition for the Future of the Middle East” (AEI, 2014); “Iranian Influence in the Levant, Egypt, Iraq, and Afghanistan” (AEI, 2012); “Containing and Deterring a Nuclear Iran” (AEI, 2011); and “Dissent and Reform in the Arab World: Empowering Democrats” (AEI, 2008). A regular guest on television, Ms. Pletka appears frequently on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.” Her broadcast appearances also include CBS News, CNN, C-SPAN, and MSNBC. She has been published in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Hill, and Politico, among other outlets. She has an M.A. from the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University and a B.A. from Smith College.

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