DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – Qatar restored full diplomatic relations with Iran early Thursday, disregarding the demands of Arab nations now locked in a regional dispute with the energy-rich country that it lessen its ties to Tehran. In announcing its decision, Qatar did not mention the diplomatic crisis roiling Gulf Arab nations since June, when Qatar found its land, sea and air routes cut off by its neighbors over Doha's policies across the Mideast. However, the move comes just days after Saudi Arabia began promoting a Qatari royal family member whose branch of the family was ousted in a palace coup in 1972. "Qatar has shown it is going to go in a different direction," said Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, a research fellow at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University who lives in Seattle. "It could very well be calculated toward reinforcing the point that Qatar will not bow to this regional pressure placed upon it."
Qatar says its ambassador will return to Tehran more than 20 months after he was recalled in protest over the ransacking of Saudi Arabia's missions by protesters angry at Riyadh's execution of a prominent Shia Muslim cleric. In a statement released on Thursday, the Qatari foreign ministry said its ambassador would "return to resume his diplomatic duties", as Doha wanted to strengthen ties in all fields with the Islamic republic. The information office did not specify an exact date for the ambassador's return - or provide his name - but said Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani discussed "bilateral relations and means of boosting and developing them" in a telephone call with his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif. The decision to restore ties with Iran comes amid a diplomatic dispute between Qatar and several Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain. They accuse Doha of meddling in the internal affairs of other countries and financing terrorism - a charge Qatar has dismissed as "baseless".
Below are the developments up to October 21. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is due in Saudi Arabia on Saturday to discuss the Qatar-Gulf crisis. Tillerson's tour of the region comes amid US frustration over the lack of movement in the crisis. "I do not have a lot of expectations for it being resolved anytime soon," he said in an interview with financial news agency Bloomberg on Thursday. Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad received Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khaled al-Hamad Al Sabah in Doha on Thursday to discuss the ongoing Gulf crisis. The two men discussed the political dispute - along with Kuwait's ongoing efforts to mediate the crisis. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said he has little hope that the months-long Gulf diplomatic crisis will be resolved soon, blaming the Saudi-led group of countries for a lack of progress. Tillerson made the comments on Thursday, a day before he embarks on a trip to the region in a renewed attempt to mediate the dispute.
Global diplomatic fallout from the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia's Istanbul consulate may help Qatar in its political standoff with Riyadh, experts say. The backlash may force Saudi Arabia to ease sweeping sanctions imposed on Doha since the dispute erupted between the former Gulf allies in June 2017. The killing of Khashoggi - who was critical of the Saudi government and its blockade of Qatar - may convince sceptics that Doha's claims of Saudi "aggression" were justified, according to analysts. "I wouldn't be surprised if the Qataris could indirectly benefit from what's happening right now," said Dr Andreas Krieg, of King's College London and former adviser to Qatar's military. "The Saudis have to make concessions."
Developments from Week 4 (June 26- July 2) since several countries, including Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, cut ties with Qatar on June 5. The defence minister of Qatar says the country is ready to defend itself if necessary. Khalid Al Attiyah made the comments in an interview with Sky News. "Qatar is not an easy country to be swallowed by anyone. We stand ready to defend our country," he said. Qatar's foreign minister will meet Kuwait's emir on Monday to give him Doha's response to a list of demands submitted to it, according to state-run media. Qatar News Agency (QNA) said on Sunday that Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, the foreign minister of Qatar, will meet the Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah on Monday. "[The foreign minister] will hand over a written message from HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. The message is about the reply which was prepared earlier by the State of Qatar on the list of collective demands submitted by the State of Kuwait at the end of last month," QNA said.