Have you missed the most important political stories of this week on the GCC crisis? Every Thursday, we take a moment to bring you all the updates on the latest developments in the ongoing Gulf crisis.
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Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs His Excellency (H.E.) Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani has called on all countries to work towards de-escalating and reducing tensions in the region along with respecting Iraq's sovereignty after attacks by the US and Iran on Iraqi soil brought the region to a brink of war, according to Al Jazeera.
During a joint press conference with his Iraqi counterpart Mohammed Ali Alhakim in Baghdad yesterday, H.E. Sheikh Mohammed said:
“Qatar is working with a group of friendly nations that hope to avoid escalation in the region.”
The Qatari Foreign Minister (FM) reaffirmed Qatar’s support for the unity and sovereignty of Iraq and its people also praised Iraq’s efforts in strengthening ties with Arab and neighbouring countries:
“Qatar seeks stability in Iraq so that the country can embark on growth. Qatar will continue to contribute to the growth and prosperity of Iraq.”
The Qatari FM also said:
"This visit comes at a critical time witnessed by Iraq and the region. My visit aims at having talks with his excellency the foreign minister of Iraq about how to keep Iraq away from conflict and how not to have Iraq as a scene for struggles. Tensions are all over the place and everyone, and every country will need to reduce tensions. Qatar, together with some friendly countries, is trying to decrease the tension. We have made contacts internationally for more consultations with our allies."
H.E. Sheikh Mohammed said his visit to Baghdad was an opportunity to discuss with the Iraqi leadership the latest developments and stress the importance of de-escalation and distancing Iraq from any political struggles and escalations in the region.
For his part, the Iraqi FM described the visit of H.E. Sheikh Mohammed as strategic and important, noting that both sides stressed in the talks on the importance of de-escalation of tensions in the region.
Earlier, the Qatari FM and his Iraqi counterpart discussed bilateral relations, the latest regional developments and the ways to pursue de-escalation and maintain the region’s security and stability.
Qatar is seeking to play a mediating role amid tensions that soared following a US drone strike earlier this month that killed a top Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani, and senior Iraq militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
Iran retaliated by firing a barrage of missiles that hit two bases in Iraq where US troops are based but caused no casualties.
Tensions soared further after Iran, just hours following the missile attacks, mistakenly shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane that had taken off from Tehran, killing all 176 people on board.
On Tuesday, His Highness (H.H.) The Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held a phone conversation during which the two leaders agreed on the need for de-escalation in the region and discussed ways to enhance regional stability as well as ways to boost bilateral ties, according to Al Jazeera.
The call came days after Iran admitted to mistakenly downing a Ukrainian commercial plane, killing all 176 people on board including 57 Canadians, saying air defences were fired in error while on alert after attacks against US targets in Iraq.
Wednesday's crash happened just hours after Iran fired missiles at two Iraqi bases hosting US troops in retaliation for the US assassination of top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on 3 January.
US President Donald Trump had previously threatened to strike 52 targets within Iran if Tehran targeted US citizens or assets following Soleimani's killing - and Iran has said the US bears some of the blame for the unintentional downing of the plane amid the heightened tensions.
During their phone conversation, H.H. Sheikh Tamim offered his condolences to Trudeau and expressed the need for a credible and transparent investigation into the incident, adding that it was important to respond to the needs and wishes of the families of the victims.
The two leaders further discussed ways of stabilising the region, as well as bilateral relations and possible ways of enhancing them.
Trudeau, who has been careful not to blame US President Donald Trump for the deaths of the Canadians on board the Kyiv-bound airliner, has said the plane crash would never have taken place if tensions in the region had not escalated.
Trudeau told Canadian broadcaster Global News on Monday:
"If there was no escalation recently in the region, those Canadians would be right now home with their families...This is something that happens when you have a conflict and the war. Innocents bear the brunt of it."
Qatar supports peace, security and stability, through its mediations to find lasting solutions to conflicts in the region and the world, is part of its belief in a peaceful and political settlement, given that dialogue is the only way to solve crises in the region. This was further established by the important visit of H.H. the Amir to the Islamic Republic of Iran, his meetings there and the results of the talks will have major positive repercussions on bilateral relations level, or regional and global security and stability, as reported by QNA and Al Sharq.
H.H. the Amir's talks with His Excellency (H.E.) Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ali Khamenei and H.E. Iranian President Dr. Hassan Rouhani included reviewing with them ways to develop and enhance the existing friendship between the two countries, as well as the current developments and how to spare the region the dangers of escalation. H.H. the Amir also appreciated Iran's position towards Qatar after the blockade and the facilities it provided to Qatar.
The results of talks were good and fruitful, as the two sides agreed to enhance the distinguished relations between the two countries in economic and commercial fields, and that de-escalation and dialogue are the only solution to regional tensions, especially in light of the recent mediation that has been led by Qatar at the highest levels to ensure security and stability in this sensitive region.
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Cover image credit: Al Jazeera