Iran official blames Trump visit for Qatar rift
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Iran official blames Trump visit for Qatar rift

Influential lawmaker says recent US-Saudi arms deal will further stoke regional conflicts; Maldives also cuts ties with Doha

Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the chairman of Iran's Foreign Policy and the National Security Committee, speaks to the press after a meeting with the Syrian parliament speaker in Damascus, on August 3, 2016. (AFP PHOTO/LOUAI BESHARA)
Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the chairman of Iran's Foreign Policy and the National Security Committee, speaks to the press after a meeting with the Syrian parliament speaker in Damascus, on August 3, 2016. (AFP PHOTO/LOUAI BESHARA)

The head of Iran’s influential parliamentary committee on national security and foreign policy said the differences between Saudi Arabia and Qatar are the result of US President Donald Trump’s recent visit to the region.

The official IRNA news agency on Monday cited Alaeddin Boroujerdi as saying that the move was predicated by the signing of a major arms deal between the Saudis and the US during Trump’s trip.

“It is not unlikely that we would witness more negative incidents in the region,” in the wake of the deal, he said.

Boroujerdi added that Washington has always made it a policy to establish a rift among Muslim countries. He said: “Intervention of foreign countries, especially the United States, cannot be the solution to regional problems.”

Iran and Saudi Arabia are major rivals in the Middle East, with the two countries backing their respective Shiite and Sunni proxies in a number of regional conflicts, namely Syria and Yemen.

While Saudi Arabia’s relations with Iran are characterized by hostility, Qatar has sought to preserve more amicable ties with its neighbor across the Persian Gulf.

On Monday, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt announced that they were cutting ties to Qatar and booting the country from an Arab coalition fighting in Yemen early Monday, amid a deepening fissure between Gulf Arab nations.

The countries accused Doha of supporting terrorist groups and endangering their national security.

US President Donald Trump (C) and Saudi's King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud (C-R) pose for a picture with leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Riyadh on May 21, 2017. (AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan)
US President Donald Trump (C) and Saudi’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud (C-R) pose for a picture with leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Riyadh on May 21, 2017. (AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan)

Yemen later announced that it would also sever its ties with Qatar, as did the Maldives, whose foreign ministry said in a statement that the country has pursued a policy of promoting peace and stability in the Middle East, and the decision was made because of its firm opposition to activities that encourage terrorism and extremism.

In addition, one of Libya’s three rival governments has announced cutting diplomatic relations with Qatar, with Mohammed al-Deri — the Libyan foreign minister of the interim Libyan government — accusing Qatar of “harboring terrorism” according to a Libyan official agency LANA.

In response to the decision by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt to cut ties with Doha, Qatar on Monday slammed the move, saying they were “unjustified” and aimed to put Doha under political “guardianship.”

“The measures are unjustified and are based on false and baseless claims,” the Qatari foreign ministry said in a statement, referring to the unprecedented steps taken by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.

“The aim is clear, and it is to impose guardianship on the state. This by itself is a violation of its (Qatar’s) sovereignty as a state,” it added.

The host of soccer’s World Cup 2022 said it has been subjected to an “incitement campaign based on fabrications, which reflects an intention to harm Qatar.”

This file photo taken on December 6, 2016, shows Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani at a Gulf Cooperation Council summit in the Bahraini capital Manama. (AFP Photo/Stringer)
This file photo taken on December 6, 2016, shows Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani at a Gulf Cooperation Council summit in the Bahraini capital Manama. (AFP Photo/Stringer)

Doha also insisted the sanctions, which include the Gulf states severing air, land and sea links with Qatar, “will not affect the daily life of citizens and residents.”

“The Qatari government will take all measures necessary… to foil attempts to affect or harm Qatar’s society and economy,” the statement said.

Qatar has land borders with Saudi Arabia and is separated by Gulf waters from nearby Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Earlier in the day, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called on Gulf states to stay united and work out their differences.

“We certainly would encourage the parties to sit down together and address these differences,” he said in Sydney.

“If there’s any role that we can play in terms of helping them address those, we think it is important that the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) remain united.”

Tillerson said despite the impasse, he did not expect it to have “any significant impact, if any impact at all, on the unified fight against terrorism in the region or globally.”

“All of those parties you mentioned have been quite unified in the fight against terrorism and the fight against Daesh, ISIS, and have expressed that most recently in the summit in Riyadh,” he added.

 

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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