Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Steps towards détente taken in the Gulf as UAE opens its borders with Qatar

Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are set to re-establish sea, land and air links. The GCC summit on Tuesday in Al-Ula, Saudi Arabia, was decisive. Host Crown Prince Muhammad  bin Salman welcomed Emir al-Thani with a hug. Trade relations can resume, but it will take some time for full diplomatic relations.

Abu Dhabi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Tomorrow the United Arab Emirates will reopen its borders with Qatar after closing them three years ago as a result of a row that shook the Gulf countries.

The easing of tensions became visible in recent days, just before the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit, and the trend seems bound to continue as a step towards boosting the anti-Iranian camp.

This comes as the region is getting ready for the new US administration led by Democrat Joe Biden, after the years of Donald Trump who spent a lot of money to create an axis between Israel and the Sunni monarchies to oppose Tehran.

The deal between the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt was reached at Al-Ula, a futuristic tourist resort during a summit largely centred on renewing ties with Qatar, which were cut  in 2017 because of alleged Qatari support for the Muslim Brotherhood (and trade with Iran). For its part, the small but rich emirate has always rejected the charge.

The Crown Prince of Bahrain Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa was present at the summit, as were the Deputy Prime Minister of the Sultanate of Oman Fahd bin Mahmoud al-Said, the Emir of Kuwait Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah , UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.

The Qatar delegation was headed by Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, who was welcomed by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (pictured) with a hug, a highly symbolic gesture that violated anti-COVID regulations.

The UAE “will work to reopen all land, sea and air borders to incoming and outgoing” traffic from Qatar, said Khalid Abdullah Belhoul, Under-Secretary of the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

Trade and travel are set to resume within a week, whilst fully diplomatic relations will take more time as the parties iron out their differences.

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