International affairs expert
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani visited Tehran and met with senior Iranian officials following a recent trip by President Raeisi to Doha. The Qatari emir usually travels to Tehran when a new government takes office in Iran to explore ways for further cooperation and discuss regional issues in a gesture signaling Doha’s readiness to consolidate relations. However, this time the visit comes amid paused talks in Vienna over the revival of Iran’s nuclear deal and heightened tensions in Palestine.
The Vienna talks on the removal of sanctions and the US return to the JCPOA has hit a deadlock over Washington’s refusal to lift the sanctions imposed by Trump.
The Qatari emir, as a mediator who has cordial relations with Tehran, can play a role in this regard. In fact, one of the goals of his visit was to express Qatar’s readiness to cooperate with Iran in resolving JCPOA-related issues. Iran’s position on the JCPOA is clear; it is based on cooperation to solve problems but in a practical way, no just on paper, without implementation.
The impasse in the Vienna talks has not been caused by Iran; therefore, Sheikh Tamim’s visit cannot do any good in this regard. The gridlock should be broken in Washington and the European capitals. The Qatari emir was apparently convinced during this trip that Iran is quite determined to adhere to the Vienna talks, and that the American side must be convinced to stick to the terms agreed to in the course of negotiations. Moreover, there was no sign that Sheikh Tamim was carrying a message from the Americans to the authorities in Tehran. But what can be understood from the remarks of European and American leaders is that they do not want the case to be closed. They hope to get more concessions from Iran as time goes by. At the end of the eighth round of talks, the Americans said that they needed to think to reach a conclusion, but did not set deadline for their possible conclusion. Iran cannot give up its rights because if it does so, even the current deal would be undermined. The positions of Iran and the West on the nuclear issue do not appear to be converging.
The situation in Palestine seemed to be an important issue to be discussed during the Qatari emir’s trip to Iran, given that the Zionists put tremendous pressure on the Palestinian people in the last two months, arresting over 1,000 of them. On the other hand, the Palestinian people came out in protest and fierce clashes took place. Given the warm relations that resistance groups and the Palestinian people have with Iran, the Qatari emir also held consultations in Tehran to assess the situation in Palestine.
Sheikh Tamim expressed hope that he could find a middle ground. Of course, Iran is not the decision-maker in the Palestinian issue, rather the Palestinians themselves determine what policies to adopt and how to fight. Iran merely supports the choice of the Palestinians.
In addition to the Vienna talks and the situation in Palestine, the issue of boosting trade was also important and was discussed during the visit. In a meeting with Sheikh Tamim, Iran’s Leader stressed the importance of dialogue with Qatar to develop bilateral relations, saying that trade volume between the two countries was not satisfactory. Tehran’s financial relations with Doha have not yet reached $1 billion, while in previous negotiations it was agreed to raise the trade ceiling to $5 billion, which has not yet been implemented. The two countries can increase their trade by taking advantage of their capacities and opportunities.