Earlier Tuesday, leadership from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt signed a US-brokered deal to restore diplomatic relations with Qatar, ultimately settling a nearly four-year dispute that deeply divided the region.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif congratulated Qatar on Tuesday for managing to successfully come to an agreement and begin repairing diplomatic ties with neighboring states that imposed a trade and travel embargo against the energy-rich country in 2017.
The Iranian official stated in a Twitter post that the settling of the row was rooted in Qatar’s “brave resistance to pressure [and] extortion,” before issuing a message to its Arab neighbors that Iran is “neither an enemy nor a threat.”
“Enough scapegoating – especially with your reckless patron on his way out,” Zarif said, referring to outgoing US President Donald Trump, who has exerted a campaign of maximum pressure toward Iran. “Time to take our offer for a strong region. #HOPE.”
Zarif’s commentary came hours after reports first indicated late Monday that Qatari and Saudi leadership intended to ease tensions and sign a deal heavily brokered by Kuwaiti and US negotiators, including White House adviser Jared Kushner, on Tuesday during the annual Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Saudi Arabia.
Although the deal allows for Saudi Arabia to reopen its air, land and sea borders with Qatar, the historic agreement also paves the way for full diplomatic relations to be restored between the two neighbors; however, it’s unclear how soon such steps might be taken by the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt.
“We are extremely pleased with having been able to achieve this very important breakthrough that we believe will contribute very much to the stability and security of all our nations in the region,” Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan told reporters during a news conference after the signing, the Associated Press reported..
“We are at a place where everybody is satisfied and happy … the returning of diplomatic relations, flights, etc., all of that will now go back to normal.”
Dania Thafer, executive director of the Gulf International Forum, told the Associated Press the agreement came about over growing concerns from Saudi Arabia that US President-elect Joe Biden would be reversing a variety of the US’ Middle East stances, in particular by restarting talks with Iran and lowering the number of US soldiers stationed in the region.
Additionally, Thafer explained that the summit and agreement were more of “confidence-building mechanisms than they were full reconciliation,” since the “core tensions” between the involved parties “are still lingering.”
“[The development] leaves a major question mark on how they will move forward,” she told the outlet.
The dispute with Qatar saw Saudi Arabia and its allies accuse Doha of supporting terror groups and of being too close with Iran, among other allegations, and cut off all ties in June 2017. Since the start of the disagreement, Qatar has firmly rejected accusations of supporting terror.
However, the blockade, which was partially lifted to allow for Qataris to participate in the Islamic hajj pilgrimage, only helped to bolster ties between Qatar and Iran as Doha sought to find ways around the restrictions.