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Saudi FM softens tone on Qatar amid Persian Gulf tensions

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir (Photo by AFP)

The Riyadh regime seems to have softened its stance towards Doha amid severe diplomatic tensions between the two sides, with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir calling Qatar an “ally” in his latest remarks.

Jubeir told journalists in London on Friday that his country had no intention of harming the Qatari people.

He further described Qatar an “ally” in the six-member [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

In early June, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates launched a coordinated campaign to isolate Qatar, which Doha believes emanate from its independent foreign policy.

The four states cut their diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar, accusing Doha of destabilizing the region with its support for terrorism, an allegation rejected by the Qatari government. A number of other countries followed suit to broke off or downgrade relations with the monarchy.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Jubeir said, “Enough is enough, and our Qatari brothers cannot continue to fund extremism and terrorize and incite and use hostile media and interfere with the affairs of other countries and still remain in good standing.”

He also noted that Riyadh, Manama, Cairo and Abu Dhabi were drawing up “a list of grievances that need to be addressed and that the Qataris need to fix,” stressing that the list did not include “demands.”

“We are working on those with our Bahraini, Emirati and Egyptian partners in order to compile this list and present it to the Qataris, and I think it will be done fairly soon,” he said.

The top Saudi diplomat further emphasized that he expected a positive response from Doha that would make the region a “better place.”

The softened tone came after Qatar announced the signing of a $12-billion deal to buy F-15 fighter jets from the United States.

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The Pentagon said the sale would give Qatar “a state of the art capability and increase security cooperation and interoperability” between Doha and Washington.

Earlier this week, the Qatari and US naval forces also concluded a three-day joint military exercise in the Persian Gulf.

Turkey continues mediation

Separately on Friday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu held talks with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in Jeddah as part of efforts to resolve the Persian Gulf’s biggest diplomatic crisis in years.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (R) meets with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, June 16, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

Diplomatic sources assessed the meeting as “positive” without elaborating on further details.

Prior to the meeting, Cavusoglu said, “We want to hear the views of Saudi Arabia regarding possible solutions and will share with them our views in a transparent way.”

Cavusoglu, whose country regards Doha as its chief ally in the Persian Gulf region, had earlier traveled to Kuwait and Qatar to mediate a settlement.

Earlier this week, the New Arab news outlet reported that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi had called on Persian Gulf leaders to expand the diplomatic rift with Qatar to include Turkey.

Sisi suggested that the boycott of Turkey should last until it stops supporting Qatar.

The regional crisis broke out last month after Qatar’s state news agency QNA released comments attributed to the emir describing Iran as an “Islamic power,” criticizing US President Donald Trump and praising the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas.

Qatar later said hackers had broken into the QNA website and published the fake news, but the denial apparently failed to convince the Riyadh regime and Persian Gulf Arab allies.

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