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Tags Current Affairs

Saudi and Qatar’s restoration of ties

Date: 08 January 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Saudi Arabia-led coalition of four Middle Eastern countries has decided to restore full diplomatic ties with Qatar.

 

Background

In 2017, Saudi Arabia led an Arab transport blockade against Qatar, in order to punish Doha for its ties with radical Islamist groups.

 

Details

  • The biggest reason probably was to pressure Qatar into reducing diplomatic and economic relations with Iran, Saudi Arabia’s great rival in the region.

  • Coalition countries put 13 demands as conditions to resume relations, including shutting news organisations such as Al Jazeera, closing a Turkish military base in the country, and downgrading ties with Tehran.

  • Qatar called the embargo a violation of international laws and instead, strengthened ties with Iran and Turkey.

  • Gulf Co-operation Council members Kuwait and Oman had broken ranks with the Saudi group, and Kuwait sought to assume the role of mediator between the coalition and Qatar.

 

Qatar’s rise

  • Qatar has gone from being one of the poorest Gulf states to one of the wealthiest due to the presence of large gas reserves.

  • It has helped Qatar become an influential player in the region’s politics. It has also used its wealth and influence on the wider global stage.

 

Points of conflict

  • Qatar shares a huge gas field with Iran, which is an incentive for it to retain good relations with the Shiite regime in Tehran.

  • This is strong reason for Saudi’s opposition, which seeks to control the geopolitics of the Middle East.

  • Qatar’s support for the Palestinian Hamas in Gaza, Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and Islamist groups in Syria are also major areas of contention.

 

American stand

  • United States President Donald Trump had expressed support for the Saudi-led embargo, and called Qatar a “funder of terror”. 

  • This was surprising given Qatar’s close ties with the US and its allies, and the fact that the country hosts a massive American military facility at the al-Udeid air base. 

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