Qatar has criticised Donald Trump’s decision to block all exports of Iranian oil, saying the sanctions mainly hurt the countries that rely on Iran.
The United States ended six months of waivers that had allowed Iran’s eight biggest customers to import limited volumes.
“The sanctions should not be extended because they have an adverse impact on countries benefiting from Iranian oil,” Qatar’s foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said in Doha yesterday (Wednesday).
He called for a dialogue between Iran and the United States to resolve disagreements and said Qatar would act as a mediator.
“In Qatar, we do not believe unilateral sanctions bring positive effects for crises which must be solved through dialogue and dialogue only.
“Unfortunately, we still see the same behaviour of the blockading states of stubbornness and denial. We hope that one day they will go back to wisdom and will come back to the table and address the grievances in front of us,” the minister said.
The Asia Cooperation Dialogue has been taking place in the Qatari capital and was attended by the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Zarif said Tehran had “extremely good relations with Qatar, Kuwait, Oman”.
“We hope to have the same type of relations with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates,” Zarif told the media in Doha.
Qatar, the world’s largest exporter of LNG (liquefied natural gas), disagrees with its Arabian peninsula neighbours, which support tighter US sanctions.
The Trump team has said it is working with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to ensure oil markets were “adequately supplied”.
Qatar sells little oil and left Opec in December, in a move largely seen as a sign of worsening relations with the cartel’s de-facto leader, Saudi Arabia.
The Saudis broke off relations with Iran in 2016 after the execution of a leading Shiite cleric resulted in protesters setting fire to Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran.
In 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt launched a diplomatic and trade boycott of Qatar, which has largely proved ineffective. The countries accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism and Iran. Iran has helped Qatar secure economic supplies since the Arab boycott was imposed.
Qatar moves closer to Iran could harm already strained relations between Doha and Washington.
Trump is also expected to designate the Muslim Brotherhood, which Qatar supports, a foreign terrorist organisation.
Representatives from Saudi Arabia and Bahrain attended Wednesday’s conference in Qatar, the first time they have done so since the 2017 boycott. Sheikh Mohammed called their involvement “limited” and said there was no sign of an improvement in relations.
Qatar specialises in LNG exports. Picture credit: Wikimedia