Friday 8 January 2021 - 06:05

Qatar Says Deal with Saudis Not to Change Ties with Iran, Turkey

Story Code : 908817
Qatar Says Deal with Saudis Not to Change Ties with Iran, Turkey
In an interview with Financial Times, the Qatari foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, said that Doha had agreed to co-operate on counter-terrorism and “transnational security” with Saudi Arabia and three other states that had imposed a regional embargo on Qatar.

But he said “bilateral relationships are mainly driven by a sovereign decision of the country. . . (and) the national interest”.

“So there is no effect on our relationship with any other country,” he said in the interview.

The deal between Riyadh and Doha may put an end to the row in which Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic, trade and travel ties with Qatar in mid-2017.

The four boycotting countries had accused Qatar of supporting terrorism. Doha denies the charges and says the embargo aims to curtail its sovereignty.

Doha had been set 13 demands, ranging from closing Al Jazeera television and shuttering a Turkish base to cutting links to the Muslim Brotherhood and downgrading ties with Iran.

Qatar rebuffed the demands as "unreasonable."

The blockade led Qatar to forge closer ties with Iran and Turkey in order to broaden its trade options or reroute its flights.

After the rival states reached an agreement this week to resolve the crisis, Sheikh Mohammed also said there would be no changes to Al Jazeera. Doha’s foes have long accused the gas-rich nation of using the station’s Arabic-language channel as a mouthpiece to criticize other Persian Gulf states and to stoke tensions in the region.

Qatar denied the allegations against it and refused to make any concessions.

The dispute was deadlocked until Saudi Arabia opened its land, sea and air border with its neighbor this week, amid the perception that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman wanted to resolve the rift to gain credibility with the incoming Biden administration in the US.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif admired Qatar for its brave struggle against extortion following rapprochement between four Arab states and Doha after three years, calling on the Arab neighbors to take Iran’s offer for a strong region.

“Congratulations to Qatar for the success of its brave resistance to pressure & extortion,” the top Iranian diplomat said in a post on his Twitter account on Tuesday.

The other states are expected to follow suit after Qatar’s emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and other Persian Gulf states signed a declaration intended to end the crisis at a summit in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.

“Hopefully within a week from the signing things should take the steps to come back to normal,” Sheikh Mohammed said.

Analysts believe the UAE in particular has been reluctant with regard to the rapprochement, partly because of Abu Dhabi’s concerns about Qatar’s growing relationship with Turkey. The UAE accuses Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan of meddling in Arab affairs and the power struggle between the two states intensified last year.

Anwar Gargash, the UAE's minister of state for foreign affairs, said that “any crisis will leave issues of trust” and some issues would take longer to fix than others.

“One of the big things will be the geostrategic dimensions, how do we see regional threats, how do we see the Turkish presence?” Gargash said. “The issue comes to the same fundamental questions. . . how is Qatar going to deal (with) vis-  -vis interfering in our affairs through support of political Islam? Is Turkey’s presence in the (Persian) Gulf going to be permanent?”

Sheikh Mohammed also added that Doha had agreed to suspend legal cases against Saudi Arabia and its allies, including lawsuits filed at the World Trade Organization and the International Court of Justice.