Qatar says deal with Saudis won’t affect ties with Iran

January 8, 2021 - 20:11

TEHRAN – Following a landmark deal between Qatar and the so-called Arab quartet to end a three-year bitter Persian Gulf dispute, Doha announced that its decision to mend ties with the quartet will not affect its ties with Iran.

Doha had agreed to cooperate on counter-terrorism and “transnational security” with Saudi Arabia and three other states that had imposed a regional embargo on Qatar, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani told the Financial Times, adding that “bilateral relationships are mainly driven by a sovereign decision of the country . . . [and] the national interest.”

“So there is no effect on our relationship with any other country,” he continued.

In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates – commonly known as the Arab Quartet - severed diplomatic ties with Qatar, and imposed a total blockade on the tiny Persian Gulf nation. The four countries closed their airspace, land, and sea routes to Qatari planes, cars, and vessels, a move that prompted Qatar to use Iranian airspace. Kuwait, a country stuck in the middle of the dispute between its neighbors, had studiously worked to reconcile the opposing sides and succeeded to do so only recently.

Shortly after cutting ties with Qatar at the time, the Arab quartet submitted a list of 13 demands to Doha that included, among other things, shutting down Al Jazeera, the Qatar-funded satellite TV network, curbing its relations with Iran, closing a Turkish base in the Persian Gulf state, and halting all military cooperation with Ankara.

The quartet also accused Qatar of supporting terrorism, an accusation Doha vehemently denies.

Last week, Qatar and Saudi Arabia reached a deal to end their dispute and restore diplomatic ties as soon as possible. Qatari emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani participated in the last week’s Persian Gulf Cooperation Council’s summit, which was held, with great fanfare, in the Saudi ancient city of AlUla. During the summit, the Arab leaders agreed to put an end to the disagreements and normalize their relations. While the leaders were preparing to take part in the summit, Saudi Arabia announced that it will reopen all its border crossings with Qatar. The United Arab Emirates also followed suit.

Qatar’s reassurance that the deal with Riyadh will not alter its relation with Iran came after Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman railed against Iran during the summit, in which the emir of Qatar was present.

The Saudi crown prince told the summit that they are “in utmost need to unite” their efforts to advance their region and confront the challenges surrounding them. Mohammad bin Salman warned of what he called “the threats posed by the Iranian regime’s nuclear program, its ballistic missile program, its destructive sabotage projects as well as the terrorist and sectarian activities adopted by Iran and its proxies to destabilize the security and stability in the region.”

The summiteers also issued a statement against Iran that echoed the Saudi accusations. The statement elicited a strong response from Iran.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said the statement is the result of a lack of understanding of the situation in the region and beyond, the Saudi regime’s grudge and its political pressure on the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

“At a time when, given the compromise between the Persian Gulf states, the regional countries are expected to rethink their viewpoints and approaches, which have had no other result than animosity and hostility over the past decades, and to adopt a new policy, some Persian Gulf Cooperation Council members persist in remaining on the wrong path and resorting to the threadbare ‘Iranophobia’ scheme,” Khatibzadeh said in a statement on Wednesday.

Khatibzadeh noted the Saudi regime’s regional policy and its destructive approaches vis-à-vis Iran and other countries have destroyed a major part of the neighboring countries’ wealth and turned the region into a depot of weapons supplied by Western companies, which has paved the way for foreigners’ further interference in this sensitive region.

“By hijacking the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council and its meetings and imposing its destructive viewpoints, the Saudi regime is promoting hate and violence in the region,” the spokesman continued.

He noted, “Regrettably, some regional countries have become a gateway for the entrance of the destructive Israeli regime into the region although they are seeing Tel Aviv’s crimes in occupied territories and this regime’s desire to viciously infiltrate into Islamic countries.”

“By continuing to pursue their injudicious policies, these countries have killed off the chances of cooperation proposed by the Islamic Republic of Iran in recent years in a bid to establish security and stability in the region,” Khatibzadeh said.

SM/PA

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