Published: Sun, August 27, 2017
Markets | By Terence Owen

Qatar restores diplomatic ties to Iran amid regional crisis

Qatar restores diplomatic ties to Iran amid regional crisis

Al-Sulaiti returned to the Iranian capital on Friday after a 20-month hiatus that started in January 2016.

Qatar had pulled its ambassador in early 2016 after Saudi Arabia's execution of a prominent Shiite cleric sparked attacks on two Saudi diplomatic posts in Iran.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Qatari Foreign Ministry announced that the Persian Gulf Arab country was upgrading its ties to Iran back to the ambassadorial level.

"Iran believes the only path toward protecting regional security and stability, and preparing the ground for economic development of the region is that regional states normalize and expand ties with one another and outside powers refrain from interfering in the Middle East affairs", he said.

They acted after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt broke off diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting Islamist extremists, a charge the tiny, gas-rich state denies.

Since the diplomatic dispute with Arab nations began in June, Iran has sent food shipments to Qatar. Saudi Arabia and its allies are yet to release a statement on the renewed diplomatic relations between Qatar and Iran.

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On Thursday, the Qatari Foreign Ministry accused the African country of joining a "campaign of blackmail" when the Chad government chose to close Qatar's embassy earlier this week. The decision to return the ambassador, announced early Thursday, comes amid a diplomatic dispute between Qatar and other Arab nations.

There was no immediate reaction from the Arab nations boycotting Qatar.

This week, Chad closed its Qatar embassy and gave diplomats 10 days to leave the country.

Restoring diplomatic ties will undoubtedly irk those opposing Qatar in the regional dispute, chief among them Saudi Arabia, Iran's regional rival.

In recent days, however, Saudi Arabia announced that it would allow Qataris to make the annual hajj pilgrimage, which is required of all able-bodied Muslims at least once in their lives. This announcement came after Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman al-Thani held talks with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif via telephone.

But Sheikh Abdullah has no role in Qatar's government and his last position was as head of the equestrian and camel racing federation decades ago.

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