Qatar Sending Ambassador Back to Iran, Ignoring Arab Demands

By Gambrell, Jon | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), August 25, 2017 | Go to article overview

Qatar Sending Ambassador Back to Iran, Ignoring Arab Demands


Gambrell, Jon, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates * Qatar restored full diplomatic relations with Iran early Thursday and promised to send its ambassador back to Tehran a move counter to the demands of Arab nations trying to isolate Doha as part of a regional dispute.

In announcing its decision, Qatar made no mention of the diplomatic crisis roiling Gulf Arab nations since June, when Doha found its land, sea and air routes cut off by the four Arab states.

Iran, which welcomed Doha's decision, has sent food to Qatar and allowed its airplanes to increasingly use the Islamic Republic's airspace.

Restoring diplomatic ties will undoubtedly anger those opposing Qatar in the regional dispute, chief among them Saudi Arabia, Iran's regional rival. Perhaps not unrelated, the move comes just days after Saudi Arabia began promoting a Qatari royal family member whose branch of the family was ousted in a palace coup in 1972.

"Qatar has shown it is going to go in a different direction," said Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, a research fellow at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University who lives in Seattle. "It could very well be calculated toward reinforcing the point that Qatar will not bow to this regional pressure placed upon it."

Qatar pulled its ambassador from Tehran in early 2016 after Saudi Arabia's execution of a prominent Shiite cleric sparked attacks on two Saudi diplomatic posts in Iran, a move to show solidarity with the kingdom. A short Foreign Ministry statement issued early Thursday changed that, saying Qatar's ambassador soon would return to Iran.

"The state of Qatar expressed its aspiration to strengthen bilateral relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran in all fields," the statement said.

In Iran, Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said Qatar announced its intention to return its ambassador to Tehran in a phone call with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. …

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