DOHA: Rivals Qatar and Saudi Arabia, along with neutral Oman and Kuwait, said on Friday progress had been made towards resolving the Gulf crisis that has pitted a regional group of nations against Doha.

Kuwait’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmed Nasser al-Mohammed Al-Sabah, whose country is leading mediation efforts, said all sides had expressed keenness for a “final agreement” during recent “fruitful discussions”, which have included the United States.

Qatar and Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministers, along with Oman’s foreign ministry, tweeted similarly worded statements thanking Kuwait and the US for their efforts to resolve the spat — but gave no details on the talks.

Saudi Arabia led its allies the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt to cut ties with Qatar in June 2017, accusing it of backing radical Islamist movements and Iran, charges Doha denies.

They subsequently forced out Qataris residing in their countries, closed their airspace to Qatari aircraft and sealed their borders and ports, separating some mixed-nationality families.

“We have achieved certain progress at a certain point of time more than a year ago, and then things have slowed,” Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said at the Mediterranean Dialogues forum in Rome.

“Right now, there are some movements that we hope will put an end (to) this crisis,” he said, without giving details.

“We believe that Gulf unity is very important for the security of the region. This needless crisis needs to end based on mutual respect.” Later at the same event, being held virtually because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud said a “final agreement looks in reach”.

“I am somewhat optimistic that we are close to finalising an agreement between all the nations in the dispute to come to a resolution we think will be satisfactory to all,” he said.

Analysts had previously suggested that any breakthrough could only cover bilateral relations between Riyadh and Doha, excluding the UAE in particular, which has been the most vocal critic of Doha since the crisis began.

Prince Faisal’s comments could mean that a broader thaw is on the horizon, but Abu Dhabi and Manama have yet to comment on the progress of efforts to resolve the crisis.

US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, is reported to have raised the Gulf crisis and pushed for progress towards ending the spat during a visit to Qatar on Wednesday.

Few details have been made public about Kushner’s trip, which could have been his last chance to press diplomatic issues in the region that has been a focal point for the outgoing Trump administration. Saudi Arabia’s closure of its airspace has forced Qatar Airways to fly over Iran, Riyadh’s arch-rival and long-time adversary of Washington, paying significant overflight fees to Tehran in the process.

The New York Times has reported that Qatar pays $100 million annually to fly over the Islamic republic, citing diplomatic sources.

US national security adviser Robert O’Brien said in November that allowing Qatari planes to fly over Saudi Arabia via an “air bridge” was a priority for the outgoing Trump administration.

Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2020

Opinion

Farewell Roosevelt Hotel
21 Jan 2021

Farewell Roosevelt Hotel

It is worth noting that massive plans have been upended and assets are now on the verge of being seized.
A horned dilemma
21 Jan 2021

A horned dilemma

Trump would rather ‘reign in Hell, than serve in Heav’n’.
Violence & Afghan peace talks
Updated 20 Jan 2021

Violence & Afghan peace talks

Many of those killed in recent weeks have actively been campaigning against rampant violence and rising human rights violations

Editorial

Updated 21 Jan 2021

Agosta kickbacks trial

A POLITICALLY significant trial opened in Paris yesterday. Former French prime minister Edouard Balladur is in the...
Updated 21 Jan 2021

Indian media scandal

Common sense, factual reporting and ethics are all chucked out the window in the maddening race for ratings, influence and power.
21 Jan 2021

Rising food prices

FOOD inflation continues to challenge the resolve of the government to control the prices of essential kitchen items...
Updated 20 Jan 2021

Broadsheet judgement

There are plenty of skeletons in the Broadsheet cupboard and they must be brought out into the open.
20 Jan 2021

Unequal justice

IT seems no one wants to testify against former SSP Malir, Rao Anwar. At least five prosecution witnesses, all ...
20 Jan 2021

Schools reopening

THE disruptive impact of Covid-19 on education will be felt for years to come. For countries like Pakistan, where...