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Saturday, January 22, 2022

Qatar says ready to mediate between Iran, US and Gulf states


Deputy minister of foreign affairs, Lolwah Al Khater said Doha is ready to create  constructive dialogue. 

Doha is committed to engaging in “constructive dialogue” between Tehran and Washington DC, Qatar’s deputy foreign minister, Lolwah Al Khater said on Tuesday, just days after a change of administration.

“Qatar has expressed its willingness to play such a role, yet we have to be invited by both parties, who are still hesitant to take this step, in terms of entering and engaging in direct negotiations,” said al-Khater, who is also the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Qatar had previously played a significant role in reducing tensions between Iran and the US after an American airstrike killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in early 2020. 

“At that point, the region was on the verge of a military escalation. Qatar back then played the role of de-escalating the situation, and then, I think, saved the region from a potential war,” she added.

The comments echoed those of Qatar’s foreign minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, who also previously said Doha is ready to play mediator between Iran and the Gulf states. 

Al Khater said Iran “is a geographical reality in our region and the Gulf states are a geographical reality, no one is going away, and that is why it is very important to engage in a meaningful, constructive and direct dialogue.

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

“If it was important for the US to have a dialogue with Iran, then it is even more important for us as Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to have a meaningful and constructive dialogue with Iran, one that will preserve the collective security of our region, the rights of our peoples and ensure a prosperous future for coming generations,” she added.

Meanwhile, Iranian state media has reported the Islamic Republic is willing to negotiate with its regional rival Saudi Arabia if the kingdom changes its policy of attempting to contain Tehran’s regional influence, according to foreign ministry spokesman, Saeed Khatibzadeh.

Those comments came after Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif revealed he had reached out to the neighbouring kingdom several times but was rejected.

End of blockade

With the lifting of the three-year long illegal blockade on Qatar by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, the countries can once again benefit a “sense of security.” 

All five countries signed the Al-Ula Declaration in Saudi Arabia  on January 5.

“There have been no concessions from any side (…) the GCC crisis was a lose-lose situation for everyone, so ending this crisis, I think, will be a gain for everyone,” Al Khater said, as several said they believe Qatar emerged victorious.

However, Al Khater said Doha did come out stronger after the tree-year crisis, at least from an economic point of view.

In the past three and a half years Qatar has “diversified its supply chains and reinforced its position as one of the largest energy exporters globally.”

“Looking back, the economic gains are significant,” she said, pointing out that Qatar’s GDP grew more than that of its neighbors during the blockade, when Doha strengthened its trade relations with Turkey, Iran and other countries in the area beyond the GCC.

“The blockade was a situation we did not choose, for sure, but we were able to live with it and sustain the situation. Ending the blockade is about the collective interest of our entire region, not only in Qatar’s interest,” she said.

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