Saudi Arabia is restoring diplomatic relations with Qatar after a three-year row

Journalists watch the screen as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman receives the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, ahead of the 41st GCC Summit in Al-Ula, Saudi Arabia, on January 5, 2021.

Fayez Noureddine | Agence France-Presse | Getty Images

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has restored diplomatic relations with Qatar, more than three years after Riyadh and several Arab countries severed ties with Doha.

This comes at a time when Kuwait, the mediator for the two parties, announced that Saudi Arabia is reopening its air, sea and land borders with Qatar.

The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, arrived in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday for the first time since the outbreak of the dispute in 2017. He was there to attend the annual summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council in the old city of Al-Ula.

Relations between Arab states soured in 2017, when Saudi Arabia and its allies – the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt – imposed a diplomatic, trade and travel embargo on Qatar. They accused the small Gulf state of supporting terrorism and being too close to Iran, allegations that Doha has always denied.

The conflict plunged the region into a diplomatic crisis not seen since the 1991 war against Iraq, and exposed deep ideological differences in the region.

Al-Thani in 2018 said The dispute was a “futile crisis”, And that Qatar maintained its sovereignty despite the “aggression” of its neighbors.

The Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya TV also reported on Tuesday that Egypt had agreed to reopen its airspace to Qatar.

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Before the summit, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, said in a tweet on Twitter that the meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council would restore Gulf cohesion. “There is still work to be done and we are in the right direction,” he added.

Restoring diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Qatar is part of Washington’s latest effort to broker deals in the Middle East. In a diplomatic victory for President Donald Trump, the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco normalized relations with Israel in 2020.

On Monday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry welcomed the reopening of the borders between Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

“We hope that a comprehensive and lasting solution to this conflict will be found on the basis of mutual respect for the sovereignty of all countries and that all other sanctions imposed on the Qatari people will be lifted as soon as possible.” The ministry said in a press release.

CNBC’s Ryan Brown and Milla Latoff contributed to this report.

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