Saudi, U.S. foreign ministers discuss Iran, Qatar

July 9, 2017 - 20:30

TEHRAN – Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said he had discussed in a “fruitful” meeting with his American counterpart the Qatar crisis and what he called “Iranian interventions” in the region.

"We discussed the crisis of Qatar and Iranian interventions in the region and the fight against terrorism," Jubeir said, as quoted by Al Arabiya television channel.

Saudi Arabia and Iran haven't had diplomatic relations since early 2016 after the storming of the kingdom’s diplomatic posts in Tehran and Mashhad by angry mobs, itself a result of Riyadh executing a prominent Shiite cleric.

Also, the two are at odds over a number of regional issues, including the Syrian crisis and what Saudis see as Tehran's growing influence in the kingdom's sphere of sway.  

Tehran rejects that it intervenes in internal affairs of neighboring countries, and says Saudis’ fear of Iran is “delusional.”

Riyadh has become more brazen against Tehran after U.S. President Trump’s May visit to the country.

In exchange for signing the largest arms sales deal with Riyadh in the U.S. history, Trump launched a barrage of accusations against Tehran, claiming, "For decades, Iran has fueled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror.”

Speaking to reporters at a conference in Oslo in mid-June, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iran had intelligence that the Saudis were “actively engaged” in promoting terrorist groups in Iran’s Sunni-majority border province of Baluchestan.

Zarif made the remarks days after ISIS took credit for terror attacks which killed 17 in the capital Tehran.

Hopes for the two regional rivals to end feud have dimmed after the decision of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Bahrain and Yemen to cut off diplomatic relations with Qatar over its perceived links to terrorism.

In a list of demands handed to Doha after the crisis, the blockading countries required Qatar to downgrade its relations with rival Iran among others.

Responding to the demands last week in London, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said Doha had to live alongside Tehran since the two states shared an offshore gas field.

In a recent development, Qatari Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah was quoted by Arab media outlets as having said that Doha is ready to severe diplomatic ties with Tehran if all other Arab states follow suit.

On Saturday, Qatar's ambassador to Spain Mohammed bin Jaham Al-Kuwari warned that certain regional states are preparing a plan for direct confrontation with Iran, according to the Qatari Peninsula daily.

In an interview with The Tehran Times, Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, a political scholar at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies, said: “Saudi Arabia pursues a form of hysterical gunboat diplomacy that is the outgrowth of an anxious state.”


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