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Friday, February 26, 2021

Iran sends planes full of food to Qatar

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Photo for illustrative purposes only. Credit: MoE

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.

Turkish dairy products. Credit: Al Meera

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.

February 2012 protest against Syrian president Bashar Al Assad. Credit: Omar Chatriwala/Doha News

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.”

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