JEDDAH: Qatar’ emir arrived in Jeddah on Monday for the first time since signing a declaration with Saudi Arabia and other Arab states to ease a years-long rift and end an embargo that had frayed ties among important US allies and security partners.

Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani is to meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah, according to a statement carried by the state-run Qatar News Agency.

The meeting highlights how ties between the neighbours are improving following a decision earlier this year by Saudi Arabia to end its more than three-year-long embargo of the tiny and wealthy Gulf state. It also signals a Saudi reset in foreign policy as a new administration, led by President Joe Biden, reassesses US-Saudi ties.

Qatar’s emir was last in Saudi Arabia for a summit that took place in January and which concluded with a declaration to ease the rift. It was his first visit to the country since ties had frayed in mid-2017.

Qatar, which is hosting the football World Cup next year, emerged from the spat largely unscathed and resolute in the face of the assault. The campaign, led by the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain, achieved little by way of forcing Qatar to change its policies and pushed the gas-rich nation in closer alliance with Turkey and Iran.

Qatar rejected the quartet’s demands, which included that it shutter its Al Jazeera news network, expel a small contingency of Turkish troops from its territory and cut ties with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Doha continued to strengthen its relationship with Washington and denied the allegations made by the quartet that it supports extremists.

Published in Dawn, May 11th, 2021

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