PM’s presence at Makkah summits shows Qatar’s keenness for peace in region

HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani participated in the opening session of the Emergency GCC Summit, which was attended by leaders and delegation heads of member states on Thursday in Makkah al-Mukarramah.

The session was attended by members of the official delegation accompanying the prime minister.

Besides the Emergency GCC Summit, HE the prime minister will chair Qatar’s delegation to the Arab League emergency summit and the 14th summit of the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (OIC) to be held in Makkah.

Upon arrival at King Abdulaziz International Airport, HE Sheikh Abdullah was received by Deputy Governor of Makkah Region Prince Badr bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, GCC Secretary-General Dr Abdullatif Rashid al-Zayani and Jedah Mayor Saleh al-Turki.

The Qatar premier is accompanied by an official delegation.

Agencies add: HE Sheikh Abdullah is the highest Qatari official to visit Saudi Arabia since a diplomatic row erupted between the neighbours two years ago.

In June 2017, four Arab nations – Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt – cut off all ties with Qatar and imposed a land, air and sea blockade, accusing the country of unfounded and trumped up charges.

Several reasons can be attributed to Qatar’s participation in the Makkah summits, a political analyst said, adding that the most important was Doha’s keen desire to see a peaceful region.

Qatar has always been a strong advocate of peace and it supported solving differences through dialogue and mediation, the analyst said.

“Qatar’s mediation has led to peace in several parts of the world.”

Besides, he said the letter written by Saudi King Salman, inviting Qatar to attend the summits, had a profound impact on Qatar, which saw the overall picture of the Middle East as critical and one that needed urgent attention.

Kuwaiti mediation led by the Amir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah also has played an important role, he said. “Qatar felt the need to maintain regional stability was more important than dwelling on bilateral differences.”

According to him, policy-wise Qatar is against war in the region and opposes sanctions as a means to settle political scores anywhere in the world.

The summits come after Saudi Arabia accused Iran of ordering drone attacks on oil pumping stations in the kingdom, which were claimed by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group, and the sabotage of oil tankers off the UAE coast.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton said Iranian mines were “almost certainly” used in the tanker operation. Tehran denies any involvement.

An Iranian official dismissed Bolton’s remarks as “a ludicrous claim”. The Islamic Republic said it would defend itself against any military or economic aggression.

Tensions have risen between the US and Iran after Washington pulled out of a multinational nuclear deal with Tehran, reimposed sanctions and boosted its military presence in the Gulf.

Aiming to defuse the escalating tensions in the Gulf, Qatar’s Foreign Minister HE Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani had held talks with his Iranian counterpart in Tehran earlier this month.

“Washington seems to have bet on Doha to de-escalate by opening back channels with Tehran. The question is whether Saudi and especially UAE can agree on Doha as a mediator,” Andreas Krieg from King’s College London told Al Jazeera.

“The fact that the Saudis contacted the Amir of Qatar directly suggests that the tension with Iran is taken very seriously in Riyadh. So the kingdom is ready to build a broader-than-usual consensus on how to deal with Iran,” Krieg said.

Source: Gulf Times