Mohammad Bin Salman’s visit to Qatar attempts to mend the long-time rifts between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The two sides resolved tension after four years of blockade.
Saudi Crown prince is in neighboring Qatar after long years of disputes and escalation. His presence in Doha occurs after long years of boycott against the Arab state, lifted only early in 2021. Qatari Emir received Bin Salman upon his entrance, and the two Arab power met last night.
The meeting occurred as Riyadh took moves to resolve a political row that has polarized the world community, strained social relations, and shattered the Arab world partnership. Sheikh Tamim greeted Saudi de-facto leader in a post on twitter, explaining that Saudi Arabia and Qatar’s close ties and collaboration are built on firm roots of tradition and a shared purpose.
“Today, I discussed with my brother, Prince Muhammad bin Salman, ways to enhance this cooperation between our two countries. I also affirmed with him our common concern to support security and stability in our region and the region,” Qatari Emir said in a tweet.
Doha is the third destination of Saudi crown prince’s regional tour to Arab nations ahead of a Persian Gulf summit late in December. The meeting will be the first since Arab countries reached a settlement for their diplomatic escalation with Qatar.
Saudi Arabia led a political campaign against Qatar that included UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain. The tension kicked off in June 2017 when some Qatari regional policies infuriated Riyadh.
Qatar turned down requirements by the four countries regarding shutting down the Al Jazeera news agency. Doha also rejected expelling a small contingent of Turkish forces from its land, amid the regional conflict. It was less than 4 years later, in January 2021, that Saudi Arabia and Qatar resolved the disputes.
Saudi Arabia and Qatar; Saving Face Despite Deep Rifts
The besieging states decided to terminate the standoff less than a year ago. Saudi Arabia and Egypt have delegated new diplomatic mission to Doha introducing ambassadors. The two other blockaders are yet to fall into line. Saudi Arabia and Qatar also restored economic and air links. The United Arab Emirates and Egypt joined the move but Bahrain preferred to stand aside.
Since the apparent resolution of the conflict, Qatari leader has made many visits to Saudi Arabia and had many meetings with his Saudi counterpart. On the other side, however, Saudi Crown Prince had no official meeting since 2017 when he took power.
Bin Salman’s trip has previously taken him to Muscat and the Abu Dhabi, where he attended the Dubai Expo yesterday. Later this week, he will fly to Manama and Kuwait before ending his week-long tour.
Saudi ruler’s visit occurs while negotiations between Iran and international powers to revive the historic nuclear deal started last week. Riyadh is Tehran’s political rival and regional foe and recurrently opposed the nuclear agreement due to its benefits for Tehran.
While historical, theological, and ethnic connections bind the Gulf Cooperation Countries together, their foreign policy positions on Iran have proved vastly divergent. Qatar, along with Kuwait and Oman, have preserved diplomatic ties with Iran despite other Arab escalations in recent years.
Against that framework, Bin Salman’s regional tour concurrent with the new round of nuclear talks may seem far from coincidence. Bin Salman may be attempting to join new forces against Iran while Tehran uses its leverages in the talks.
Saudi Arabia and Qatar had deep philosophical and regional rifts despite their common interests in some spheres. The new visit may aim at saving the face, while the differences remain at work.