Escalation of Arab Tensions Not Welcome

Escalation of Arab Tensions Not Welcome Escalation of Arab Tensions Not Welcome

Lawmakers said Tehran is opposed to the escalation of the ongoing Arab crisis, refuting foreign media speculations portraying Iran as the player pushing its own agenda amid the dispute.

Ali Najafi Khoshroudi told ICANA that the rise in tensions and the subsequent breakup of the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council would only deteriorate the current state of affairs, noting that "Qatar's expulsion from [P]GCC will complicate Riyadh-Doha dispute".

"Contrary to what is being said in foreign media, Tehran does not welcome the tension between Persian Gulf Arab states," he said.

In a coordinated move, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with Qatar on June 5 and imposed a land, air and sea blockade on the country.

The quartet accused Qatar of funding "terrorism", which has been rejected by Qatar.

They later gave the gas-exporting sheikhdom a 13-point list of demands that Doha dismissed, diminishing the prospects of settling the dispute, at least in the near future.

 Real Loser

Khoshroudi said Qatar is now working to fill the vacuum created by the Saudi absence in its economic, political and military sectors, declaring that the Saudi government would ultimately be the loser in the conflict.

"Qatar, as one of the main members of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum, exerts significant influence on energy markets," he said, noting that if Doha decides to use its position to manipulate the market, it "would undermine the Saudi clout and would be to their detriment."

The GECF is an intergovernmental organization of 11 of the world's leading natural gas producers, including Russia, Qatar and Iran.

Its members together control over 70% of the world's natural gas reserves, 38% of the pipeline trade and 85% of the liquefied natural gas production.

The three largest reserve-holders in the GECF—Russia, Iran and Qatar—together hold about 57% of global gas reserves.

Qatar mounted what appeared to be a show of strength on June 29, when the state-owned Qatar Petroleum announced plans to raise liquefied natural gas capacity by 30%.

Lawmaker Alireza Rahimi said, "Qatar is an influential country in the Arab world because of its vast strategic energy reserves."

"Doha's elimination from the [P]GCC would prove costly for Saudi Arabia, leading to a domino effect that would see other members like Oman and Kuwait opting out of the bloc in the long run," he said.  

 Ankara Steps In

On the military front, Qatar has refused to shut down a Turkish military base, one of the quartet's demands, in what many believe is an attempt by Ankara to raise its status in the region as a reliable force.

Ankara has also provided Doha with hundreds of cargos of food and other products, after Saudi Arabia sealed the only land border of Qatar, which supplied the import-dependent nation of 80% of its food and construction materials.

Khoshroudi said measures adopted by Ankara will enable it to capture a good share of Qatar's economy in the future.

Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Ahmad Al-Thani, chairman of Qatar's biggest building contractor, said trade with Turkey will reach new highs, as the crisis in the Persian Gulf shows no signs of abating.

"Turkey and Turkish-based companies will be the first priority in all of our projects" from now on, he told Turkish daily Hurriyet on June 28, suggesting Qatar will scale down trade with the blockading countries in (P)GCC.

Gas-rich Qatar is currently in the middle of a massive $200-plus billion infrastructure program to prepare for the 2022 football World Cup.

The aforementioned lawmakers are both members of Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission.


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