News ID: 279229
Published: 0256 GMT January 08, 2021

Qatar: Deal with Saudi Arabia, its allies will not change our ties with Iran

Qatar: Deal with Saudi Arabia, its allies will not change our ties with Iran
AFP

Qatar will not alter its relations with Iran and Turkey in a sign that it has made few concessions after securing a deal with Saudi Arabia and its allies to end a bitter dispute between the rival Persian Gulf Arab states.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, the Qatari foreign minister, told the Financial Times that 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.

But he said “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 said in an interview.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cited Doha’s ties to Iran and Turkey, as well as its support for Islamist movements, as core reasons for their extraordinary decision in 2017 to cut diplomatic and transport links with Qatar.

The so-called “quartet” then submitted a list of 13 demands to Doha that included 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.

But after the rival states reached an agreement this week to resolve the crisis, Sheikh Mohammed also said there would be no changes to Al Jazeera. Doha’s foes have long accused the gas-rich nation of using the station’s Arabic-language channel as a mouthpiece to criticize other Persian Gulf states and to stoke tensions in the region.

Qatar, which hosts the US’s biggest military base in the West Asia, repeatedly denied the allegations against it and refused to make any concessions.

The dispute was deadlocked until Saudi Arabia had to open its land, sea and air border with its neighbor this week, amid the perception that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s day-to-day leader, wanted to resolve the rift to gain credibility with the incoming Biden administration in the US.

The other states are expected to follow suit after Persian Gulf Arab leaders, including Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Qatar’s emir, signed a declaration intended to end the crisis at a summit in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.

“Hopefully within a week from the signing things should take the steps to come back to normal,” Sheikh Mohammed said.

He said all the states were “winners” in the wake of this week’s agreement, but acknowledged that it could take time for a full reconciliation.

 

 

 

   
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