In an unusual circumstance, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier was left waiting on his plane for nearly 30 minutes in Doha after he arrived on an official visit on Wednesday. Steinmeier had arrived with the German envoy to Qatar Lothar Freischlader and a military guard of honour was readied for him, but he soon found that there were no Qatari officials to welcome him.
It turns out that Steinmeier had arrived a bit earlier than scheduled and had to wait in the blistering hot weather at the door of Bundeswehr’s Airbus A350 with folded hands for close to half-an-hour before Qatari Minister of state for Foreign Affairs Sultan al-Muraichai arrived to receive him, reported DW.
Even with the delay, Steinmeier managed to leave the airport in time to visit Qatar's ruling emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
A deliberate snub?
Steinmeier arrived in Qatar to discuss efforts to maintain the truce between Israel and Hamas and secure the release of the remaining German hostages being held by the group. "I am sure Qatar will do everything in its power to contribute to the release of the German hostages... I hope we can expect good news on this in the coming days," he told reports after meeting Al Thani.
A DW reporter speculated that either it was a mistake in planning or relations between Qatar and Germany took a slight turn for the worse after Steinmeier recently visited Israel for a three-day trip, followed by a two-day visit to Oman and only three hours in Doha. Qatar's mediating influence in the Israel-Hamas war is seen as controversial to Germany as the country houses Hamas' political wing.
Furthermore, some speculated that the 'snub' was in response to contentious remarks made by German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock ahead of the Qatar emir's visit to Berlin in October, which angered Doha. "We do not accept support for terror. To put an end to this terrorism... countries like Qatar have a special responsibility," she said.
Steinmeier was the last leg of a broader visit to the Middle East, which included a visit to Israel and Oman. There have been no official responses to the diplomatic delay as of now.
Qatar's influence on the Israel-Hamas war
Qatar has been one of the key mediators, alongside Egypt, to negotiate the seven-day ceasefire between the two warring sides and secure the release of hostages taken by Hamas in exchange for Palestinian prisoners. More than 100 hostages have been released by Hamas, while Israel has freed 240 Palestinian prisoners.
The truce has been extended several times and expired on Friday morning, leading to a resumption of fighting. Mediators are working on extending it by at least another day. There has been increasing international pressure for the truce to be extended to secure the release of as many hostages as possible from the Gaza Strip, nearly two months after a devastating war broke out when Hamas attacked Israel on October 7.