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Doha, Tehran should walk the talk

The Amir of Qatar was categorical when he said that dialogue must replace conflict in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. There can't be two opinions on that.

Published: Sun 21 Jun 2015, 10:15 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 2:51 PM

The realisation between Qatar and Iran to move ahead despite differences and strike a consensus wherever possible is a promising development. The telephonic conversation between the Amir of Qatar, His Highness Shaikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, and Iranian President Hassan Rohani could be the beginning of a new era in their checkered relations. Though the intention was to exchange pleasantries on the eve of the holy month of Ramadan, the dialogue went a step ahead and laid the format for a possible strategic understanding between the two countries in times to come.

Shaikh Tamim exhibited genuine leadership as he said that Iran could play an important role in establishing peace and security in the region. The Qatari leader definitely had at the back of his mind the crisis in Syria and Yemen, and how effective Tehran is in calling the shots in these two Arab countries. The good point, however, is that despite serious differences over the upheavals in Syria, Iran did not sever its relations with Qatar. Rather, in the last few months they had made considerable progress in buying gas and investing in other lucrative projects, which is a good omen to say the least.

So is the case of Yemen. Tehran’s support to the Houthis is no secret, and it is also true that the Islamic Republic will be the prime beneficiary if the rebels control the strategic water lanes through which oil vessels pass into the Mediterranean and beyond. Qatar and other Arab countries thus have direct stakes as the crisis deepens in the region. The failure of the United Nations-sponsored talks on Yemen in Geneva is a setback of sorts, and that is why Qatar’s befriending Iran at this sensitive moment is not without a reason.

The Amir of Qatar was categorical when he said that dialogue must replace conflict in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. There can’t be two opinions on that. Qatar’s proactive foreign policy in the region, especially in terms of dealing with Egypt and Turkey, and at the same time playing host to the Afghan Taleban suggests that its mending of fences with Iran will open new vistas of multilateral cooperation. Doha and Tehran should walk the talk to reconcile in an era of rivalries and tensions.

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