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Friday, May 14, 2021

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

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Following the Al-Ula declaration, former prime minister and foreign minister, Hamad Bin Jassim Al Thani, has called on Gulf countries to open a dialogue with Iran.

In a twitter thread on Saturday, the former senior official who’s often referred to by his initials – ‘HBJ’ – stressed the importance of resolving the dispute between Iran and the Gulf states, in light of the recent GCC reconciliation.

“I have already said during Trump’s presidency that opening a dialogue between Iran and the GCC might yield significant results,” tweeted Hamad Bin Jassim.

“Such a discussion could ease the tension in the region and promote confidence between opposing sides in the Gulf,” he added.

In the first week of 2021, a breakthrough declaration ended the three-year blockade on Qatar. 

Diplomatic relations have been restored between Doha and former blockading countries after the annual GCC summit held in Saudi Arabia witnessed the signing of the Al-Ula declaration. 

The Gulf crisis began shortly after Trump came into office and is ending just weeks before he leaves the White House. The US President has 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, Hamad Bin Jassim says the current political atmosphere provides a perfect time to take a different approach 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.

“We are in need to establish a plan on all levels without taking uneducated risks” he added.

For HBJ, reaching an agreement with Iran is essential in the meantime as he considers it an open door to resolve other disputes in the region.

For decades Gulf states, especially Saudi Arabia, have been at odds with Iran, resulting in tension between countries, much of it intensifying in recent years particularly after the civil war in Yemen broke out.

However, 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 says GCC reconciliation deal won’t impact Iran, Turkey ties

Thus, he concluded in his thread on Twitter that differing political views should not prevent a discussion between Iran and the GCC.

“We are aware that we have different perspectives regarding several issues  with Iran. However, this should not prevent opening a dialogue with Iran. We are engaged with many countries that we disagree with on many things,” he wrote.

Last week, Qatar’s current foreign minister – Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said that the Al-Ula declaration which saw the end of the blockade on Qatar did not include an agreement on Doha severing or downgrading its ties with Tehran. 


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