Gulf leaders sign deal to end years-long dispute

Solidarity and Stability deal

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In News:

  • Gulf leaders have signed a “solidarity and stability” deal to restore diplomatic relations between Qatar and four Arab states, and end the three year embargo against Qatar.

News Summary:

  • Gulf leaders have signed a “solidarity and stability” deal to restore diplomatic relations between Qatar and four Arab states, and end the three year embargo against Qatar.
  • The four Arab states, Qatar, along with Oman and Kuwait, which have mediated between the two sides, signed the deal.
  • After the signing of the deal, the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Qatar publicly embraced, bringing Doha back into the regional fold after a three-year-long rift.
  • Saudi Arabia re-opened its land, sea and air borders to Doha.

Events leading to the signing of the deal:

  • In recent months, Kuwaiti and US mediators stepped up efforts to end the stand-off. The US administration under Trump wanted to assemble an alliance of Sunni-led states to counter Iran and its proxies.
  • The Arab countries felt the need to unite efforts to promote the region and to confront challenges that surround them.
  • They were especially concerned by the threats posed by Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programme and what Saudi Arabia claims as Iran’s plans “for sabotage and destruction”.

Background: Qatar’s Blockade

The Start of Blockade:
  • In June 2017, Saudi Arabia had led a coalition of countries in the Gulf and beyond, to cut ties and transport links with Qatar, shutting off shipping routes and air space.
  • The countries that severed diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar included its neighbours Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain as well as Egypt. 
Solidarity and Stability deal
The reason cited by them were:
  • Qatar’s alleged support for terrorism across the region
    • Qatar acknowledges providing assistance to Islamist groups designated as terrorist organisations by some of its neighbours, notably the organization called ‘Muslim Brotherhood’.
    • UAE views Muslim Brotherhood as an existential threat to its monarchy.
    • Qatar has supported political Islamist movements in Gaza, Libya and elsewhere.
  • Qatar’s ties with Iran
    • Qatar has relations with Iran, with which it shares the world’s largest gas field.
    • Iran, the Shia Muslim power is the main regional rival of Sunni Muslim-ruled Saudi Arabia’s.
Demands by Qatar’s Neighbours:
  • The four Arab states issued a 13-point list of demands for Doha to comply with in order to restore erstwhile relations.
  • Some demands from Qatar included:
    • Closing down news outlets such as Al-Jazeera
    • Severing ties with radical Islamist groups like Muslim Brotherhood
    • Scales down ties with Shia-majority Iran
    • Removing Turkish troops stationed in the country

Sanctions on Qatar During the Blockade:
  • Since 2017, the blockade of Qatar by the four Arab states included the following steps:
    • Closing of its only land border (with Saudi Arabia)
    • Stopping Qatari ships from entering ports anywhere in the Saudi coalition
    • Blocking Qatari planes from flying in their airspace
    • Expelling Qatari citizens

Also Read: Global Updates: Iran starts enriching Uranium up to 20%, seizes tanker in strait

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