Qatar restored full diplomatic relations with Iran on Thursday and promised to send its ambassador back to Tehran as the Gulf nation digs in against the demands of several Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia.
According to the AP, 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. “The state of Qatar expressed its aspiration to strengthen bilateral relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran in all fields,” The Qatari foreign ministry said.
But the move to embrace Iran is a public snub to Saudi Arabia and the several Gulf Arab nations that are hoping to adjust Qatar’s foreign policy to be more in line with theirs, and what they view as domestic subversion and meddling by Qatar.
Iran welcomed Doha’s decision, and has sent food to Qatar and allowed its airplanes to increasingly use the Iranian airspace.
Via the AP/Christian Science Monitor:
“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.”
There was no immediate response from Saudi Arabia or its allies in Bahrain, UAE and Egypt to the diplomatic move, according to reports. But Saudi Arabia is likely to be “infuriated,” writes Kim Sengupta, Diplomatic Editor at the UK’s Independent.