Al-Quds Al-Arabi: The American “Financial Times” newspaper revealed, today, Friday, that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has recently stepped up its efforts to solve its three-year-old crisis with Qatar, after US President Donald Trump’s defeat in the elections, according to people familiar with the talks.
The newspaper’s Middle East editor, Andrew England, said in a report prepared with its UAE correspondent Simeon Kerr and Energy Editor Derek Brewer that the move to end the Gulf states ’blockade of their gas-rich neighbor is seen as an attempt by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to win favor. The incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden and presenting Trump’s farewell gift.
The move to end the blockade of the Gulf states on their gas-rich neighbor is seen as an attempt by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to win over President-elect Joe Biden’s upcoming administration and present a farewell gift to Trump.
The report pointed to bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto leader, establishing close ties with the White House during the Trump era, who stood by the crown prince as Riyadh grappled with its worst diplomatic crisis in decades after Saudi agents killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi two years ago in Istanbul. But the incoming Biden administration is expected to be cooler towards the young prince who has drawn widespread criticism from Democrats over the Khashoggi killing, the Saudi war in Yemen, and the detention of dozens of activists, businessmen and senior members of the royal family.
The newspaper added that an advisor to Saudi Arabia and the UAE said, “This is Biden’s gift.” He added that bin Salman “feels as if he is in the crosshairs” after Biden won the elections and wants a deal with Qatar “to indicate that he is ready and ready to take steps.”
Ali Al-Shehabi, a Saudi analyst close to the royal court, said that the Saudi leadership for months had been “open to raising this issue.” “For some time, they have been working to close many hot files, and this is clearly one of them,” he explained.
Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic and transport links with Qatar in June 2017, claiming that Doha sponsors Islamic groups and that it is very close to Iran.
Qatar, the world’s richest country in per capita terms, denied the allegations. All sides have so far refused to make concessions and are resisting Washington’s pressure to resolve the crisis. The Trump administration was concerned that the dispute was weakening the Arab coalition it sought to form against Iran, and was frustrated that Tehran was benefiting financially because the ban meant that flights to and from Qatar were forced to use Iranian airspace.
The “Financial Times” pointed out that a diplomat familiar with the talks said that the recent talks were held with American and Kuwaiti mediation aimed at laying the foundations for direct negotiations between Riyadh and Doha.
He said Qatar wanted to make sure that there were preconditions before any bilateral talks. He explained that this could include “confidence building” measures such as the lifting of the air embargo. Another possibility is to allow the free movement of Qatari citizens to the countries that have imposed the ban, even though Doha wants guarantees about their safety.
Diplomatic source: Qatar wants to make sure that there are preconditions before any bilateral talks. It could include “confidence-building” measures such as lifting the air embargo and allowing the free movement of Qatari citizens to countries that have imposed the ban
The report pointed to what US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said this month that he hoped to see Qatar Airways able to fly over the boycotting Arab countries “in the next 70 days” before the end of Trump’s presidency.
The advisor to Riyadh and Abu Dhabi said that the Saudi and Emirati leaderships want Qatar to “de-escalate” the Arabic-language television channel Al-Jazeera, which its critics accuse of being a propaganda tool for Doha, and to end its criticism of Saudi Arabia.
After the imposition of the blockade on Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE presented a list of 13 demands, including closing Al Jazeera, restricting Doha’s relations with Iran, and closing a Turkish military base. But the advisor said that Kuwaiti mediators had reached a new agreement to replace the 13 clauses “to pave the way for reconciliation.”
The thaw in relations between Qatar, the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas, and its Gulf neighbors could include shipping LNG to Bahrain, according to people familiar with the negotiations.
However, a person familiar with Doha’s position said that no details of the CBMs were discussed. Gulf officials warned of any significant breakthrough in the near term. There are also questions about Abu Dhabi’s position.
Last week, Yousef Al-Otaiba, the UAE ambassador to Washington, said ending the dispute was not a priority, pointing to the pending differences between the two countries over the future direction of the Middle East. But Western officials and regional analysts said the UAE would likely lag behind Saudi Arabia, its biggest ally.
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