Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz (left) and Qatar’s emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani (File Photo, Image credit: The Independent)

GCC countries reopen land border, airspace with Qatar

Three and a half years after imposing a diplomatic, trade and travel boycott with Qatar, Saudi Arabia reopened its land border and airspace with the former. Kuwait, a country hemmed in between Saudi Arabia and Iraq, is also going to reopen its airspace and sea border.

The decision was taken on the eve of the Gulf Cooperation Council annual summit in the Saudi Arabian city of Al-Ula. The Qatar blockade was already on top of the agenda at the GCC meet.

It needs to be stated that the GCC is a six-nation bloc consisting of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar.

The increasing influence of Qatar in the Middle East in the last few years, thanks to Aljazeera media network and the country getting 2022 FIFA World Cup, are also the causes of tension between Qatar on the one hand and Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt on the other.

It needs to be mentioned that these four countries had imposed a boycott of Qatar in June 2017 stating that Doha had become too close to Iran and also that it was supporting “terrorism” in the region. Qatar had then repeatedly denied the allegations saying that there was ‘no legitimate justification’ for the same.

The United States has also been nudging the GCC countries for some time to push for a reconciliation with Qatar in order to isolate Iran, its number enemy in the region.

Iran is the main regional rival of Saudi Arabia as both countries try to project themselves as leaders of the Muslim world in West Asia. So whatever action Saudi Arabia takes regarding Iran, the three countries–the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt–tend to follow it as the rulers in all these countries are pro-America whereas the Iranian regime is staunchly anti-America.

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