On July 26, 2020, Doha, the US Special Representative for Iran and Senior Adviser to Secretary of State, Brian Hook, has said that the Gulf dispute has continued too long and it ultimately harms United States’ shared regional interests in stability, prosperity, and security. Brian Hook acknowledged the challenge ahead of ending the crisis that has torn apart the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain part of the siege.
American special envoy says Qatar blockade continues to ‘harm shared regional interests’.
“The dispute has continued for too long,” Hook told reporters from Doha after meeting with Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani. “Bringing an end to this dispute really will advance the collective interests of all the parties to this conflict.”
“It is a pleasure to be here in Doha, where I met earlier with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs H E Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani. Qatar is a great friend to the United States, and my lunch meeting with H E Sheikh Mohammed was wide-ranging and productive,” Hook said while speaking to journalists in a virtual press conference.
He said that while Iran was the main focus of his discussions with H E Sheikh Mohammad and they also discussed a range of other topics including the Gulf rift. “President Trump and Secretary Pompeo continue to stress the importance of unity among the GCC members. The dispute has continued too long and it ultimately harms our shared regional interests in stability, prosperity, and security. The United States will continue to stress the benefits of cooperation with all GCC members and support steps to rebuild trust and unity,” said Hook. “Bringing an end to this dispute will really advance the collective interests of all parties to this conflict,” he added.
Hook emphasized on the importance of Kuwaiti mediation to solve the Gulf dispute and expressed hope that the crisis will end soon.
Answering a question on Qatar’s role in the region’s stability by giving priority to dialogue, Hook said: “Well, Qatar is a base for US forces. And through that it very much contributes to greater peace and stability in the region. Qatar is a partner across a range of security issues. But we also have very deep economic, diplomatic cooperation and cultural ties. It is always very good and productive to be in Qatar.”
Prior to his arrival in Qatar, Hook had visited UN Security Council member Tunisia and will travel to Kuwait.
“Before arriving in Qatar, I was in Tunisia for consultations with the President’s office and the Foreign Minister. Tunisia currently sits in the Security Council and I used the opportunity to discuss our shared interests at the United Nations,” he said. “I am back in the region today to advance the Administration’s priority of extending the UN arms embargo on Iran, which expires in October. I have spoken with leaders here in the Gulf and throughout the world,” he added.
Diplomats and Gulf sources have told the Reuters news agency the US has been trying to convince Saudi Arabia and its allies to reopen their airspace, but mediation efforts since the start of 2020 have yet to bear fruit.
Egypt also joined the blockade, which saw nations close their airspace and borders to Qatar in June 2017.
Kuwait and Oman, the two other nations in the GCC, have sought dialogue between the countries since, with Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah leading those efforts.
The United States has so far unsuccessfully tried to mediate the dispute, which Washington sees as a threat to efforts to contain Iran.
Hook said he planned to travel on July 27 to Kuwait City to meet with officials there and discuss the issue. Hook said the hospitalisation of the 91-year-old Kuwaiti ruler would “not have any negative effect on diplomatic efforts” to end the blockade. Sheikh Sabah, who is in the US receiving medical treatment, has long tried to end the siege. The US envoy said he believed Sheikh Sabah, a long-serving diplomat, would want Kuwaiti efforts to continue.
Hook is in the Middle East to urge the extension of a United Nations arms embargo on Iran. Washington is trying to extend the embargo warning failure would “intensify” regional conflicts.
“I’ve spoken with leaders here in the Gulf and around the world – no one believes that Iran should be able to freely buy and sell conventional weapons such as fighter jets … and various kinds of missiles,” said Hook.
The US has urged the UN Security Council to extend the embargo which expires in October. The extension is opposed by veto-wielding Russia and China, which stand to gain major arms contracts from Iran.
“If the Security Council fails to extend the arms embargo by October 18, Iran will be able to freely buy and sell these weapons,” Hook said. “Imagine what the region will look like if this happens, conflicts in places like Syria and Yemen will certainly intensify.”
Iran has vehemently opposed any extension of the arms embargo. Last month, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called the Trump administration “an outlaw bully” that is waging “economic terrorism” on his country.
If the US is unsuccessful in extending the weapons embargo, it has threatened to trigger a return of all UN sanctions on Iran under the landmark 2015 nuclear deal, from which Washington unilaterally withdrew in 2018.
This article was edited using the data from www.aljazeera.com, www.msn.com, www.todayonline.com, and thepeninsulaqatar.com