Iran showed Doha respect for Qatar’s sovereignty: GSA chief
TEHRAN – Giorgio Cafiero, managing director of Gulf State Analytics (GSA), said Iran has shown it cares about Qatar’s sovereignty.
“The Emirati- and Saudi-led blockade of Qatar, which lasted from mid-2017 until early 2021, had a huge impact on Doha’s relations with Iran,” Cafiero told the Tehran Times. .
“By helping Qatar overcome the siege, Iran demonstrated in Doha that it respects Qatar’s sovereignty and is willing to help the gas-rich Persian Gulf country in a time of crisis caused by neighbors. immediate areas of Qatar in the Arabian Peninsula”.
On February 21, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi made a two-day trip to Doha for high-level talks with the Qatari Emir, Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and to participate in the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF). .
“Kuwait has demonstrated that it does not make decisions based on orders from Riyadh.”Raisi was accompanied by several ministers who signed several agreements aimed at strengthening ties between the two countries.
Despite the significance of the visit on the eve of an impending nuclear deal in Vienna, some commentators prefer to highlight Iran-Qatar relations which have improved since 2017.
“The strengthening of relations between Doha and Tehran that took place between 2017 and 2021 influenced bilateral relations in a way that will probably survive the blockade period for a very long time,” Cafiero notes.
“President Raisi’s visit to Doha this month underscores the determination of these two Persian Gulf states to continue to deepen their ties and expand their cooperation.
Here is the text of the interview:
Q: How do you interpret President Raisi’s visit to Qatar in light of the impending agreement on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal?
A: For years, the Qataris have sought to prevent tensions over Iran’s nuclear program from escalating into armed conflict in the Persian Gulf. Such a nightmare scenario, should it ever occur, would have devastating effects on Qatar’s vital national interests. Heavily dependent on the Strait of Hormuz for its exports and sharing ownership of the world’s largest natural gas field with Iran, Doha would lose a great deal economically and in terms of security if the deadlock over Iran’s nuclear program led to a war in the Persian Gulf. . Therefore, it is pragmatic that Doha does everything in its power to prevent such an outcome.
Qatar’s position is that there is no realistic or viable way to resolve this issue peacefully outside of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). In May 2018, when the Trump administration decided to trash the deal by unilaterally pulling the US out of the deal, Qatar – along with Oman and Kuwait – did not join the other three council members. Gulf Cooperation (GCC) – Bahrain, Saudi Arabia. , and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)—to welcome this decision. On the contrary, Qatar’s view was that this decision boded very badly from the point of view of Doha’s own interests and regional security. Today, Qatari officials are trying to play their diplomatic cards to help the delicate process of rescuing the JCPOA. Certainly, Raisi’s visit to Doha and the recent visit of the Qatari head of state to Washington are all factors in Doha’s diplomatic strategies to help the P5+1 and Iran address the remaining issues hampering recovery. of the JCPOA.
Q: Do you think Doha is seeking to replace Muscat in the mediation between Iran and the United States?
A: No, I don’t. Doha and Muscat find useful each other’s efforts to ease friction between Iran and the United States. Their diplomatic steps to achieve this result complement each other. This is understandable given that Qatar and Oman share interests in replenishing the JCPOA as well as lowering temperatures in Tehran-Washington relations. As two GCC states that enjoy good relations with the United States and Iran, Qatar and Oman share concerns about the potential outcome of tensions between Washington and Tehran spiraling out of control. Therefore, any Qatari success on this front bodes well for Oman’s national interests and vice versa.
Q: What are the lessons of the 2017-2021 Doha siege and Iran’s role in giving Qatar’s economy a break?
A: The Emirati-Saudi-led blockade of Qatar, which lasted from mid-2017 until early 2021, had a huge impact on Doha’s relations with Iran. By helping Qatar overcome the siege, Iran demonstrated in Doha that it respects Qatar’s sovereignty and is willing to help the gas-rich Persian Gulf country in a time of crisis brought on by Qatar’s immediate neighbors in the Arabian Peninsula. The strengthening of relations between Doha and Tehran that took place between 2017 and 2021 has influenced bilateral relations in a way that will probably survive the blockade period for a very long time. President Raisi’s visit to Doha this month shows how determined these two Persian Gulf states are to continue deepening ties and expanding cooperation. The Qataris are not naive and they realize that a third GCC crisis could arise and in such circumstances close ties with Iran will once again be important for Doha.
Likewise, Doha and Tehran are not on the same page when it comes to all regional and international issues. Qatar and Iran have fundamentally different positions on issues involving the Syrian government, certain armed groups in Iraq, as well as opposing views on the role the US military plays in the Persian Gulf. Yet the governments of Qatar and Iran have been able to work together in a mutually beneficial manner despite some sensitive issues that pit their interests against each other.
Q: To what extent can countries like Qatar, Oman and Kuwait operate independently from Riyadh’s regional policies?
A: There are countless instances where Qatar, Oman and Kuwait act independently of Saudi foreign policy. The same can be said of the United Arab Emirates. Although Riyadh has influence over the small GCC states and the Saudis play a leadership role in this sub-regional organization, there is no doubt that Doha, Muscat and Kuwait City are comfortable pursuing their own interests which do not always align with Riyadh’s interests.
Qatar’s willingness to engage with anti-status quo actors in the Arab region like the Muslim Brotherhood throughout the post-2011 period has highlighted Qatar’s tendency to break with the “Saudi consensus” that was itself a major dynamic contributing to the two GCC crises of 2014 and 2017-2021. Oman’s cordial relations with Iran, reluctance to join the Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen and refusal to support regime change efforts in Damascus illustrate the Sultanate’s independence from of Saudi Arabia. Kuwait’s democratic institutions and tradition of neutrality in many conflicts and disputes in the Middle East (Western Asia) (such as the GCC crisis of 2017-2021) show how the country does not make decisions based on the orders of Riyadh, but instead pursues an independent foreign policy aimed at promoting Kuwait’s national interests.