Reconciliation among the Gulf States: New concern for the US & others?


It was 5th June of 2017, when Saudi Arabia, declared a ban on Qatar and its registered planes, ships and naval facilities from using Saudi’s airspace and sea routes, also, imposed sanctions against the products and markets of Qatar. Eventually, UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and many other gulf countries and some African countries enmeshed themselves in this diplomatic crisis, quote-un-quote ‘Qatar Diplomatic Crisis’. On the other side, Turkey, Iran and Libya (Tripoli) set forth their clinches in the side of Qatar.

Many political uncertainties and dilemmas, however, took place among the two parties during the crisis which, put forward many questions and possibilities of getting experience with the Gulf crisis, could led them to a probable war. By the time, Saudi Arabia and Qatar held them in and their relations have been coming to an overture of peace.  On the 4th January 2021, Saudi Arabia and Qatar entered into an agreement of calling a halt of this diplomatic crisis by the influences of brokers, Kuwait and the US. Consequently, Saudi Arabia conceded to reopen its border for Qatar, an agreement and final communique got signed, on 5 January 2021 following a GCC summit at Al-Ula, between these two gulf states.

However, on 20 January 2021, Egypt and Qatar have mutually agreed and signed a reconciliation deal between them(selves) to continue their diplomatic relations in the further time ‘under probation’. Besides, UAE and Bahrain also declared, reopening of their borders for Qatar, and revoked their embargo on land, air and naval blockade on this country. Their accusing of Qatar of supporting terrorism and becoming too close to Iran also got resolved anyway.

Focusing on another diplomatic progression of the gulf region, Qatar called Iran to engage in diplomacy with the Gulf States. On behalf of this, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said, “We still believe this should happen. This is also a desire that’s shared by other GCC countries. My government is hopeful about Iran and its Arab neighbours”. Replying to and welcoming the co-operative Foreign policy of Qatar and FM Al-Thani, Javad Zarif, Irani Foreign Minister, twitted and said, ” the solution to our challenges lies in the collaboration to jointly form a strong region’: peaceful, stable, prosperous and free from global or regional hegemony”.  Javad Zarif also showed a path of peaceful cohesion between/among the Iran and Gulf states.

This normalisation of Saudi led-coalition and Qatar laid reconciliation bare and opened the doors of peaceful cohesion between Riyadh and Ankara. Since 2017, Ankara has been talking against KSA staying against the Saudi led coalition’s embargo on Qatar but after the mutual agreement and peaceful reconciliation between Riyadh and Doha on 5th January, it is also on the opinion of normalising relation with Riyadh. Moreover, the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi made not only a serious and hot relation but also led the relation at the lowest level between Ankara and Riyadh.

Emphasizing on the restoration ties with Doha, Saudi led-coalition has come to an end of the embargo which is overwhelmingly welcomed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He said, “Very beneficial. We hope that our position in Gulf cooperation will be re-established. This will make gulf cooperation stronger”. Qatari special spokesman Mutlaq al-Qahtani replied in a very positive way and accorded to play a role of mediator between Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

As a result, Qatar is playing a great role as mediator of normalising the past ongoing serious relations among the Gulf States. The reconciliation, what was infeasible two years ago, now, is very much appeared to all and leads Arab states to good and peaceful cooperation in the future. If it sustains, whether, in the name of liberalism or any other political ideology, it must create a powerful regionalism among these countries. But in the sphere of Iran and Saudi Arabia, it will reveal many dilemmas and this reconciliation may not happen at all.

Saudi Arabia is, more or less, emphasizing on the tourist economy nowadays alongside signifying the importance of exporting petroleum, iron ore, natural gas, gold, and copper. Though the reconciliation of the KSA with other Gulf States and Turkey seems like a U-turn of Saudi Arabia, it will help Saudi to have a good outcome from its future foreign policy.

In the context of Iran, it is suffering a lot from the losing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh and Qasem Suleimani, even; it has not overcome the contretemps yet. Besides, the new president of the US, Joe Biden, is keeping Iran incommoded situation rather than going beyond the policy of Trump. Moreover, Iran’s reconciliation with the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia might not happen only because of the interest of the United States.

Looking at the US’ concern, the US must find itself in the dilemma about the middle-east policy which was narrowly emphasized (in a lesser persuasive way) by the policy of Trump. Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again, non-interventionist, isolationist, and protectionist’ policies more or less isolated USA from the position of hegemonic and unipolar role in the world structure or quote-un-quote world system. He was always concerned with ‘America first’ rather than using its ‘military-industrial complex’ in the outside world like middle-east. Also, his government withdrew from the JCPOA nuclear deal with Iran and increased sanctions against Iran which triggered the Persian Gulf crisis persuasively.

In consequence, Joe Biden has to take the challenge of bringing back Iran to the nuclear deal and fulfil the foreign interest of Iran otherwise Iran will remain a throat-thorn against the US in the middle-east. If this possible regionalism grows rapidly and the Gulf States along with Iran and Turkey, establish a concord among themselves, it must be coming as a regional power. In this contemporary multipolar system of the world politics, the US is (still) remaining as isolationist but the outcomes of Biden’s new Foreign policy will determine the factors. 

Kawsar Uddin Mahmud
Kawsar Uddin Mahmud
Kawsar Uddin Mahmud Researcher, CBGA- The KRF Center for Bangladesh and Global Affairs, Dhaka, Bangladesh Contact: kawsarduir[at]


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