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Qatar warns against Iran escalation, calls for nuclear-free Middle East Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Qatar warns against Iran escalation, calls for nuclear-free Middle East

Saudi Arabia "supported and welcomed" Trump's decision [Getty]

Date of publication: 9 May, 2018

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Qatar has responded to Donald Trump's announcement to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal by urging for a 'collective response' that would see the Middle East nuclear-free.
While most world leaders have responded clearly to the US President Donald Trump's announcement to reinstate sanctions on Iran and pull out from the landmark 2015 nuclear deal, Qatar has taken a more cautious stance.

Qatar, despite not being a signatory to the 2015 nuclear accord, said it would be "directly impacted" by any decisions taken due to its geographical location - in the Gulf region - and its political and historical relations with the parties in question.

"The State of Qatar stresses its main priority is to ensure the Middle East region is clear from nuclear weapons, and to avoid a nuclear arms race which would have unspeakable consequences."

Qatar's ministry of foreign affairs also called for a quick response from the world and regional powers to the crisis, saying that "collective action within the international community" would be the only guarantee to stopping a response.

While not explicitly mentioning Iran, Qatar hints that the "loss of confidence" could see a party rush to enrich their uranium and lead to a nuclear arms race.

Tehran had issued a strong warning to the United States not to quit the pact saying it would "regret it like never before in history".

Trump's decision found notable dismay among other US politicians and Washington's European allies, who view the deal as the best way of keeping tabs on Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Countries in the Gulf however, appeared pleased by the move.

Saudi Arabia, Iran's regional rival and longtime US ally, said it "supports and welcomes" Trump's decision.

"The kingdom supports and welcomes the steps announced by the US president towards withdrawing from the nuclear deal... and reinstating economic sanctions against Iran," the foreign ministry said.

Saudi Arabia's allies in the Gulf, the UAE and Bahrain, also issued statements via their foreign ministries in support of Trump's decision.

Riyadh has led a blockade on Qatar since June, when Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with Doha, accusing it of supporting terrorism and being too close to Iran. Qatar strongly denies the claim and says the blockade was about sovereignty.

Since then, Saudi and Emirati ministers and media have routinely attacked Qatar and attempted to woo Trump to their side.

Oman has taken a softer line on Iran than its Gulf neighbours, and shared Doha's sentiments on the US withdrawal from the truce.

Oman's ministry of foreign affairs said on Twitter that they enjoy good and cooperative relations with both the US and Iran and will continue to strengthen ties and work towards maintaining peace and stability in the region.

"We believe the US and the Islamic Republic of Iran are committed to achieving peace and stability in the region, and confrontation is not in the interest of either party."

Oman did however hint at its disapproval of the US decision, saying: "The sultanate appreciates the position of the other five partners in their commitment to adhere to the deal, contributing to both regional and international security and stability."

Trump initially showed support for Riyadh during the blockade of Qatar, but faced resistance from most policy makers and advisers mindful of the pivotal role that the al-Udeid Air Base, outside Doha, plays in the war against the Islamic State group.

Since then he has tried publicly to bridge the divide and urged Saudi Arabia and the UAE to end the "senseless" blockade. 

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