Browsing 'iran' News

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Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani in 2016.

The turmoil caused by the Gulf dispute is unwisely bringing Qatar closer to Iran, the nation’s foreign minister has said.

According to Reuters, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani told reporters in France:

“They said Qatar was now closer to Iran. By their measures they are pushing Qatar to Iran. They are giving Iran, or any regional force, Qatar like a gift.”

Al Thani added, “Is that their objective, to push one country, a GCC member state toward Iran? This is not a wise objective.”

The minister was in France yesterday to attend a discussion hosted by the French Institute of International Relations.

Stronger economic ties

After an air, space and land blockade of Qatar was imposed by its neighbors in June, the country began seeking new trade routes and partners.

Iran was among the countries that offered its airspace, as well as food and dairy imports.

Blondinrikard Fröberg/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The nation is a longtime rival of Saudi Arabia, but has been on cordial terms with Qatar for years. This in part because they share the enormous underwater South Pars gas field.

However, the countries do not see eye-to-eye on several political matters, including the war in Syria.

Qatar sides with the rebels, while Iran has been supporting embattled President Bashar Al Assad.

Thoughts?

Blondinrikard Fröberg/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

In a surprise move this week, Qatar announced it would return its ambassador to Iran, nearly two years after recalling him out of solidarity with Saudi Arabia.

At the time, Saudi Arabia had executed a Shia cleric, prompting protestors to attack its missions in Iran. The nation quickly recalled its envoys, and many Gulf states followed suit.

The decision to return the ambassador comes despite demands by some Gulf states for Qatar to distance itself from Tehran, and has drawn the ire of UAE officials.

In a statement this week, Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the return of the ambassador comes amid “its aspiration to strengthen bilateral relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran in all fields.”

Iran has grown closer to Qatar during the Gulf dispute, allowing the nation to use its airspace and sending fresh food over the past few months.

‘Burning bridges’

In a series of tweets this week, the UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr. Anwar Gargash criticized Qatar’s decision as escalation of the Gulf dispute.

Translation: “The management of the crisis caused the burning of bridges, the squandering of sovereignty and the deepening of the Qatari crisis and undermined what remained of the mediator’s chances. The wisdom that we hoped for was completely absent.”

It’s been almost three months since Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut economic and diplomatic ties with Qatar. They’ve accused the country of financing terrorism, which it denies.

They’ve also demanded Qatar close Al Jazeera, reduce ties with Iran and shut its Turkish military base if it wants the blockade to end.

Qatar has thus far refused to do so.

Chad relations deteriorate

Meanwhile, a new country has cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, after accusing it of destabilizing the central African region due to its involvement in Libya.

This week, Chad closed its Qatar embassy and gave diplomats 10 days to leave the country. It also announced plans to close its Doha embassy and recall all personnel.

Shutterstock

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar strongly responded by denouncing the allegations. It said it would close Chad’s embassy in Doha and is giving diplomatics and staff 72 hours to leave the country.

However, west African nation Senegal this week reinstated its ambassador to Qatar after recalling him out of solidarity with Saudi Arabia three months ago.

In a statement, Senegal’s foreign minister said he hoped the act “encourages efforts to peacefully resolve the crisis between Qatar and neighboring countries.”

Thoughts?

Courtesy of Ministry of Environment

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar has received hundreds of tons of food imports from Iranian companies over the past few days, Iranian media has said.

The shipments come as Qatar faces an economic blockade from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt, among other nations.

So far, at least four planeloads of fruits and vegetables have been sent to Qatar, an Iran Air spokesperson told Fars News Agency.

Deliveries will be stepped up in the coming days, “in line with demand and request of the Qatari people and government,” he added.

Another Iranian media outlet reported that 45 tons of dairy products are already heading to Qatar daily.

Political landmines

Notably, news of the shipments came from Iranian officials, not Qatari ones.

In comparison, just days earlier, an influx of Turkish poultry and dairy products into Qatar was hailed widely by local authorities.

Al Meera

Turkish dairy products

The difference in reactions likely involves the sensitivity surrounding Qatar’s relationship with Iran, Saudi’s biggest regional rival.

Doha has maintained cordial ties with Tehran, in part because they share the enormous underwater South Pars gas field.

However, both countries differ sharply on several issues, including the Syrian conflict.

Omar Chatriwala / Doha News

February 2012 protest against Syrian president Bashar Al Assad.

Qatar sides with the rebels, while Iran has been supporting embattled President Bashar Al Assad.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, an analyst said accepting Iran’s help amid the Gulf dispute could have political ramifications.

Cliff Kupchan, the chairman of political risk consultancy Eurasia Group, explained:

“I think Iran views this as a huge opportunity, despite Qatari support for rebels in Syria. Iran has chance to pick off, with Turkey, a GCC member. It doesn’t get much better.”

Thoughts?