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    Who Stands in the Way of Iran-Qatar Rapprochement

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    Saudi Arabia is intent on preventing other Gulf monarchies from fostering closer ties with Iran, Iranian political analyst and former chief editor of the Mehr News Agency, Hassan Hanizadeh, told Sputnik Persian.

    Saudi Arabia "has made every effort to turn other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council against Iran, prohibiting them from establishing working relations with our country. This is why it is Saudi Arabia that does not want Iran to become friends with Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Apparently, peace and stability in the region are not among goals that Riyadh wants to pursue," the analyst said.

    Hanizadeh also mentioned United States President Donald Trump's recent visit to the oil kingdom, saying that his meeting with the Gulf monarchs was "symbolic."

    "Trump offered these nations to create a so-called Arab NATO to contain Iran. Qatar is the only GCC member that has tried to refrain from engaging in conflicts and maintain working relations with Iran. Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani has reaffirmed these with his recent statements. However, a strong response from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and UAE has dominated the media. Clearly, Qatar has chosen a path different from other GCC nations. Its strategy is aimed at fostering closer ties with Iran in disregard for Saudi Arabia's threats," the analyst said.

    Hanizadeh was referring to a story that caused a stir in the Middle East earlier this week.

    On May 24, the Qatar News Agency published a news item quoting al-Thani as saying among other things that Iran is a "regional and Islamic power" that has played a positive role in stabilizing the region. These comments caused outrage in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, with both countries blocking Qatari media including Al Jazeera. Qatar later said that QNA was hacked, publishing a false statement attributed to al-Thani.

    Some have remained unconvinced. Hanizadeh suggested that the fact that al-Thani's remarks were first published and then removed points to internal divisions in the Gulf Cooperation Council.

    "Qatar has ideological allies among Arab monarchs when it comes to this issue, specifically the rulers of Oman and Kuwait. These countries have carried out a foreign policy less dependent on Riyadh," he explained.

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    Tags:
    foreign policy, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Iran, Persian Gulf, Middle East, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia
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