Qatar’s emir wants ties with Iran to be ‘stronger than ever before’

Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. (AP)
Updated 28 May 2017
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Qatar’s emir wants ties with Iran to be ‘stronger than ever before’

JEDDAH: Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani has said his country enjoyed deep and historical ties with Iran.
In a phone conversation with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday, Al-Thani said he wanted the ties with Iran to be “stronger than ever before.”
The remarks confirm lingering suspicions that have been swirling in the world media that Qatar was in league with Iran against its fellow Arab and Gulf countries. Iran is seen as the root cause of all the troubles in the Arab world — from Syria to Iraq, to Yemen and Lebanon.
Al-Thani said he will instruct the authorities in his country to exert all efforts to develop relations with Tehran. Rouhani stressed that one of Iran’s foreign policy pillars is continuation of cooperation with Qatar.
In comments that will be seen as ironical, Rouhani said that sectarianism is a major scourge that affects everybody’s security. Iran has vociferously and militarily promoted sectarianism in the Arab world through its armed militias.
Rouhani called for strengthening cooperation between the countries of the region to bring about stability and harmony.
While underlining the importance Iran pays to developing relations with neighboring countries, especially Qatar, the Iranian president expressed confidence in the possibility of doing away with obstacles to such ties through the strong will of all countries, particularly Iran and Qatar.
Iran, said Rouhani, seeks to spread a climate of moderation and logic in the relations among the region’s countries, and gives priority to political solutions.
He added that the countries of the region need more consultation and exchange of ideas to resolve and contain regional challenges, and declared Iran’s readiness to cooperate in this regard.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE expressed exasperation this week after official Qatar media published remarks purported to have been made by Sheikh Tamim, which were critical of Trump’s foreign policy and of renewed tensions with Tehran.
Qatar said the remarks, published late on Tuesday, were fake and that the news agency that ran them had been hacked.


Erdogan and Putin vow closer cooperation on Syria at Moscow talks

Updated 23 January 2019
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Erdogan and Putin vow closer cooperation on Syria at Moscow talks

  • The two leaders are on opposite sides of the Syria conflict
  • Russia and Turkey have agreed to coordinate ground operations in Syria

MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a meeting in Moscow on Wednesday vowed to coordinate their actions more closely in Syria.
“Cooperation between Russia and Turkey is a touchstone for Syrian peace and stability,” Erdogan said in translated comments at a joint press conference after their talks, which lasted around three hours.
“With our Russian friends we intend to strengthen our coordination even more.”
“We agreed how we’ll coordinate our work in the near future,” Putin said, calling the talks which included the countries’ defense ministers “effective.”
At the start of their meeting in the Kremlin, Putin addressed Erdogan as “dear friend,” saying that their countries “work on issues of regional security and actively cooperate on Syria.”
Erdogan used the same term for Putin and said “our solidarity makes a weighty contribution to the security of the region.”
The two leaders are on opposite sides of the Syria conflict: Russia provides critical support to the Syrian government, while Turkey has backed rebel groups fighting President Bashar Assad’s forces.
Despite this, they have worked closely to find a political solution to the seven-year conflict.
Russia and Turkey have agreed to coordinate ground operations in Syria following US President Donald Trump’s shock announcement last month about pulling 2,000 American troops out of Syria.
Putin said that if carried out, the withdrawal of US troops from northeastern Syria “will be a positive step, it will help stabilize the situation in this restive area.”
Turkey has also welcomed Washington’s planned withdrawal, but the future of US-backed Kurdish militia forces labelled terrorists by Ankara has upset ties between the NATO allies.
Erdogan had said on Monday he would discuss with Putin the creation of a Turkish-controlled “security zone” in northern Syria, suggested by Trump.
The US-allied Kurds, who control much of the north, have rejected the idea, fearing a Turkish offensive against territory under their control.
Putin said Wednesday that Russia supports “establishing dialogue between Damascus officials and representatives of the Kurds.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov last week said that Damascus must take control of the north.
The northwestern province of Idlib earlier this month fell under the full control of a jihadist group dominated by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate.
The Russian foreign ministry said earlier Wednesday that the situation in the province remained of “serious concern.”
Putin said that the leaders discussed the situation in Idlib “in great detail today.”
“We have a shared conviction that we must continue jointly fighting terrorists wherever they are, including in the Idlib zone,” the Russian leader said.
Erdogan said that the countries will wage a “lengthy fight” in Syria.
Nearly eight years into Syria’s deadly conflict, the planned US pullout has led to another key step in Assad’s Russian-backed drive to reassert control.
Kurdish forces who were left exposed by Trump’s pledge to withdraw have asked the Syrian regime for help to face a threatened Turkish offensive.
The Kremlin hailed the entry by Syrian forces into the key northern city of Manbij for the first time in six years after Kurds opened the gates.
Moscow plans to organize a three-way summit with Turkey and Iran early this year as part of the Astana peace process, launched by the three countries in 2017.
Putin said Wednesday the next summit would be held “in the near future” in Russia, saying the leaders still needed to agree the time and location with Iran.
The last meeting between Putin, Erdogan and Iran’s Hassan Rouhani took place in Iran in September last year with the fate of rebel-held Idlib province dominating the agenda.
Ties between Russia and Turkey plunged to their lowest level in years in November 2015 when Turkish forces shot down a Russian warplane over Syria.
But after a reconciliation deal in 2016, relations have recovered at a remarkable speed with Putin and Erdogan cooperating closely over Syria, Turkey buying Russian-made air defense systems and Russia building Turkey’s first nuclear power plant.