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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Qatar says it’s time the Gulf start talks with Iran

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Doha’s Foreign Minister urges former blockading states to initiate a dialogue with Tehran.

Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani says he’s confident a dialogue between neighbouring Gulf nations and Iran will begin in the near future, adding it will help strengthen diplomatic ties in the region.

The Qatari minister made the comments in an interview with Bloomberg on Monday. When asked about the prospect of discussions between rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia, Al-Thani said his government is “hopeful that this would happen and we still believe this should happen.”

In light of the impending inauguration of Joe Biden and talk that his administration will adopt a different approach to that of Donald Trump towards Tehran; discussions surrounding the the Gulf-Iran dispute have increased.

The Trump administration pursued what many have described as aggressive policies towards Iran, including Washington’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal, the assassination of Iran’s top general – Qasim Sulaimani and the introduction of more economic sanctions.

With Joe Biden due to be inaugurated as the next American President, the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers is forecast to be back on the table.

With that being said, the “maximum pressure” campaign that won the support of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates is expected to be scrapped by the incoming US administration.

Thus, Qatari officials see the current political atmosphere as a perfect time to take a different approach with Iran.

“This is also a desire that’s shared by other GCC countries, ”the Foreign Minister told Bloomberg TV.

Earlier this month, Qatar’s former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Hamad Bin Jassim Al Thani, also called on Gulf countries to open a dialogue with Iran.

“I encourage (the GCC) to seize the opportunity and not bet on the current tension between America and Iran, especially now that Biden will be President,” he said in a tweet.

He concluded in a Twitter thread that differing political views should not prevent a discussion between Iran and the GCC.

The former Qatari PM believes that a new relationship can be established between the GCC and Tehran, pointing to the fact that several Gulf countries have strong relations with other nations they don’t necessarily agree with on everything.

Read also: Qatar’s former Prime Minister says it’s time to ease tension between Iran and the GCC

Doha has been keen on maintaining strong ties with the Islamic Republic during the three-year blockade imposed by Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain. 

Nonetheless, after signing the Al-Ula declaration which saw the end of the blockade on Qatar, the current foreign minister insisted that the deal did not include an agreement on Doha severing or downgrading its ties with Tehran.

That puts Qatar in position to act as the mediator between Iran and its now-allies Gulf states.

“Qatar will facilitate negotiations if asked by stakeholders and will support whoever is chosen to do so,” Qatar’s top diplomat affirmed. 

“We want the accomplishment, we want to see the deal happening,” he said of potential discussions between the U.S. and Iran. 

“Wherever it is, whoever it is conducting this negotiation, we will support them,” he added.

Even though Qatar offered to be a regional mediator, the Foreign Minister pointed out that some differences with the UAE are still to be resolved.


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