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The Perceptual Shock of Qatar Foreign Policy in 2017 Crisis: Systemic Factors, Regional Struggles Versus Domestic Variables

Hazal Muslu El Berni


The Qatar crisis of June 2017 commenced without a warning and restored overlooked regional security dynamics to the state, the political elite, and the Qatari society at large. Qatar was cautious about the diversions of its foreign policy from regional security perceptions of its neighbors, even before the crisis, despite its failure to predict imminent political consequences, emerging from some states within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). In the aftermath of the crisis, critical narratives of the neighboring states on Qatar’s independent policies intimidated at the top leadership level and necessitates an analysis of the crisis, navigating through domestic settings facing systemic and regional pressures. This article aims to analyze the impact of the crisis on the perceptions of Qatari decision-makers, its society, and its tribes using the “perceptual shock” concept of neoclassical realism. It contends that despite the ongoing regional isolation of Qatar by the Saudi-led quartet, comprising Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Egypt, Qatar’s state apparatus and its relations with the society continued to strengthen due to the complex relationship between the domestic variables and systemic factors, and their relation to regional dynamics.

Keywords: GCC, Gulf security, neoclassical realism, perceptual shock, Qatar blockade, regional isolation

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pp. 96-119