Zarif Testing Diplomatic Skills to Help End Arab Crisis

Zarif Testing Diplomatic Skills to Help End Arab Crisis Zarif Testing Diplomatic Skills to Help End Arab Crisis

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has made phone calls to about a dozen counterparts, calling for dialogue to resolve a crisis in which some countries severed diplomatic ties with Qatar.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, cut ties with Qatar in a coordinated move on Monday over alleged support for militants and its relations with Iran.

Zarif, in phone talks with top diplomats of the European Union, Turkey, Indonesia, Iraq, Oman, Tunisia, Malaysia, Lebanon, Algeria, Qatar and Kuwait, stressed the need to encourage a dialogue between the parties to the dispute, IRNA reported on Tuesday.

He had earlier criticized the coercive anti-Qatar move in a twitter message.

"Neighbors are permanent; geography cannot be changed. Coercion is never the solution. Dialogue is imperative, especially during the fasting month of Ramadan."

President Hassan Rouhani's deputy chief of staff for political affairs blamed the latest Arab political crisis on US President Donald Trump's controversial visit last month to Riyadh.

"What is happening is the preliminary result of the sword dance," Hamid Aboutalebi tweeted in reference to Trump's joining in a traditional dance with the King Salman at royal palace.

While in Riyadh, Trump urged Arab Muslim leaders to create a regional military alliance to counter, what he claimed is  "Iran's influence."

Saudi Arabia, long at loggerheads with Iran over regional influence, tried to rally Arab allies in January 2016 to cut relations with Tehran.

Bahrain, Sudan and Djibouti followed suit, but the UAE downgraded ties and Qatar, Kuwait and Jordan defied the Saudi call and simply recalled their envoys from Tehran.

***Treading a Different Path

Qatar has traditionally avoided joining the Saudi-led ranks of fellow Persian Gulf Arab states against Iran.

Reuters believes that the hawkish tone Trump brought in his visit to over 50 Muslim leaders in Riyadh on Tehran and on terrorism is seen to have laid the groundwork for the new diplomatic crisis.

Qatar has for years presented itself as a mediator and power broker for the region's many disputes, but Egypt and some  Persian Gulf Arab rulers resent Doha's support for Islamists, especially the Muslim Brotherhood, which they see as a political foe.

Banning all transport ties with Qatar, the three Persian Gulf states gave Qatari citizens and residents two weeks to leave.

In the harshest measures, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain's civil aviation bodies banned Qatari planes from landing in their  airports and banned them from using their airspace.

Regional powerhouse Turkey, an ally of both the Muslim Brotherhood and Qatar, urged dialogue to resolve the spat.

But the economic fallout loomed, as Abu Dhabi's state-owned Ethihad Airways, Dubai's Emirates Airline and budget carriers Flydubai and Air Arabia said they would suspend all flights to and from Doha from Tuesday morning until further notice.

Qatar Airways said on its official website it had suspended all flights to Saudi Arabia.

The measures are more severe than during a previous eight-month rift in 2014, when Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE withdrew their ambassadors from Doha, again alleging Qatari support for militant groups.


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