SOURCE: REPUBLIC TV
In a massive breakthrough in the Gulf, Saudi Arabia has agreed to open its airspace and land border to Qatar after 3 years-long diplomatic crisis. Qatar’s only land border has been mostly closed since mid-2017, when Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain launched a blockade against the Gulf state, accusing it of supporting Islamist extremist groups and of having warm ties with Iran.
The Saudi border, which Qatar relied on for the import of dairy products, construction materials and other goods, opened briefly during the past three years to allow Qataris into Saudi Arabia to perform the Islamic hajj pilgrimage.
Making the announcement, Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Ahmad Nasser Al-Sabah said on state TV that the decision was taken after Kuwaiti Emir’s talks with Saudi Crown Prince as well as Qatar’s Emir. “Based on Sheikh Nawaf’s proposal, it was agreed to open the airspace and land and sea borders between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the State of Qatar, starting from this evening,” he said. He also said that a statement about the same will be signed in the GCC summit and the conversations between both leaders “emphasised that everyone was keen on reunification” and the countries will “usher in a bright page of brotherly relations”.
While the Saudi decision marks a major milestone toward resolving the Gulf spat, the path toward full reconciliation is far from guaranteed. The rift between Abu Dhabi and Doha has been deepest, with the UAE and Qatar at sharp ideological odds. The decision to end the Saudi embargo also comes just weeks after President Donald Trump’s advisor and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, visited the kingdom and Qatar in a final push by the administration to secure a diplomatic breakthrough. The terms and conditions, however, are still unknown.
13-point demands of 2017
It is to be recalled that Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, in 2017, had put forth 13-point demands to Qatar for ending the blockade. The most significant demands among them were:
Cut diplomatic ties with Iran and close the Iranian diplomatic missions in Qatar, expel members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and cut off military and intelligence cooperation with Iran.
Shut down the Turkish military base inside Qatar
Shut down Al Jazeera and its affiliate stations, as well as, all media outlets funded directly or indirectly by Qatar
Sever ties to all “terrorist, sectarian and ideological organisations,” specifically the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIL, al-Qaeda, Fateh al-Sham, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.
Stop granting citizenship to wanted nationals from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. Revoke Qatari citizenship for nationals where such citizenship violates those countries’ laws.
Cease contact with the political opposition in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain.