Qatar restores diplomatic ties with Iran
Qatar has restored diplomatic ties with Iran in a move set to further inflame tensions with the four Arab states it has been locked in a regional dispute with since June. The Financial Times reoirts in its article Qatar restores diplomatic ties with Iran that the Qatar foreign ministry said its ambassador would return to Tehran to exercise his diplomatic duties as the country “expressed its aspiration to strengthen bilateral relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran in all fields.”
Saudi Arabia led three other Arab states in launching an economic and travel embargo against Qatar in early June, accusing Doha of sponsoring terrorism and cosying up to the Iranian regime. Riyadh and its Sunni allies accuse Shia Iran of interfering in Arab states from Iraq to Yemen, saying Tehran’s growing influence destabilises the region and bolsters the cause of radical groups such as Isis. Iran says it is helping countries fight Sunni extremists, which it accuses Riyadh of backing.
Qatar has struggled to cope with its neighbours’ embargo, relying on close ally Turkey and neighbouring Iran and Oman for imports of food and construction materials to the tiny state, which is preparing to host the football World Cup in 2022.
Doha and other Gulf states withdrew their ambassadors to Iran after mobs damaged Saudi diplomatic facilities in the country in early 2016 after Riyadh executed a Shia cleric in the kingdom. Qatar has had to balance relations with Iran carefully as both states share a huge natural gasfield, the main source of Doha’s immense wealth. Like Oman, Qatar’s bilateral relationship with Tehran has been warmer than the more aggressive stance assumed by Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.
Doha’s decision to restore relations with Iran, as well as the presence of Turkish troops on Qatari soil, could point to an emerging alliance in the face of disunity among the Gulf states. The quartet has upped psychological pressure on isolated Qatar in recent weeks as the dispute approaches its fourth month with little sign that mediation efforts led by Kuwait and the US are making any progress. Qataris have rallied around their emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, in the wake of the spat with their neighbours.