Qatar sends ambassador back to Iran, angers Bahrain, UAE

By @chelean on
Part of the flag of Qatar is seen in this picture illustration June 5, 2017.
Part of the flag of Qatar is seen in this picture illustration June 5, 2017. Reuters/Thomas White/Illustration

Qatar will reinstate its diplomatic relationship with Iran, its foreign ministry announced Thursday. The move is expected to further infuriate its neighbours, which had already severed their ties with the oil-rich nation.

Doha’s Foreign Ministry said it was sending its ambassador back to Tehran after more than a year of hiatus. It pulled out its ambassador in January 2016 following attacks on the Saudi embassy in Tehran and its consulate in Mashhad.

There was no reason given for the reinstatement. Doha did not mention the diplomatic crisis in the Gulf region, in which its neighbours decided to cut their ties with it in June. However, the timing could be indicative of Doha’s defiance of the demands from Saudi Arabia and the other countries that joined in boycotting Doha.

The countries – led by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain – previously issued a 13-point demand list to Qatar that included Doha shutting its diplomatic posts in Iran. However, Qatar adamantly let the compliance deadline pass. With Qatar announcing that it would reinstate its ambassador to Iran, it sent out a clear defiance message that the Gulf diplomatic crisis would not end any time soon.

In June, the Gulf nations abruptly cut off their diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing the smaller nation of supporting extremism, which it denied. The countries also cited Doha’s good relations with Iran. However, the snub did not result in Qatar shunning off Iran; it instead apparently resulted in the opposite, pushing the two countries closer together.

Responding to the restoration of Iran’s ambassador to Qatar, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash has accused Qatar of prolonging the Gulf crisis. In a series of tweets on Thursday, Gargash said the move only deepened the countries’ already marred relations with Qatar.

“The management of the crisis caused the burning of bridges, the squandering of sovereignty and the deepening of the Qatari crisis and undermined what remained of the mediator’s chances, the wisdom that we hoped for was completely absent,” he wrote (as translated by the National).

Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa, also slammed Qatar’s decision. “For the sake of history, Qatar on the same day it refused to allow its citizens to perform Haj reinstated its ambassador in a country that false claims support for Islam and Muslim,” he posted on Twitter.

Qatar orders Chad embassy shut down

Meanwhile, Qatar has ordered the embassy of Chad to be shut down, giving its diplomats 72 hours to leave. On Thursday, the Qatari Foreign Ministry accused the African country of joining a “campaign of blackmail” when the Chad government decided to close Qatar’s embassy earlier this week. Chad gave Qatari diplomats 10 days to leave the country.

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