By joining Western-led aerial patrols over Libya and recognizing rebels as the country's legitimate representatives, Qatar is taking a gamble as it bids to capture popular Arab feeling and boost its diplomatic clout. Energy-rich Qatar was the first Arab country to contribute planes to police the UN-backed no-fly zone over Libya last month--a move that helped the United States to argue that the Western-led air strikes have Arab support. Only the United Arab Emirates followed, although the Arab League endorsed the international no-fly zone over Libya. Soon it also became the first to recognize the rebels, a day after a senior Libyan rebel official said Qatar had agreed to market crude oil produced from east Libyan fields no longer under the control of leader Muammar Gaddafi. The moves reflected the boldness of Qatar's ambition to punch above its weight on the world stage, as exemplified when it won the right in December to host the 2022 soccer world cup. "Not new is Qatar's role in recent years as a host of international political and scientific conferences, a place where foes meet. All of this crowns its gentle force that it is trying to boost," analyst Mona Lisa Freiha wrote in the Beirut-based influential daily AN NAHAR on Apr. 16. "However, Qatar's joining of the Western-led campaign against Libya raises many questions about the ambitious role sought by this tiny Gulf state that is comparable in size to a small U.S. state, especially with all dangers entailed," she added.