SNAPSHOTS

What’s Driving Saudi Arabia to Ease Its 3-Year Qatar Blockade

MIN READJan 8, 2021 | 17:22 GMT

Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Nayef Falah Al-Hajraf holds a press conference at the end of the GCC's 41st summit in the city of al-Ula in northwestern Saudi Arabia on Jan. 5, 2021.

Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Nayef Falah Al-Hajraf holds a press conference at the end of the GCC's 41st summit in the city of al-Ula in northwestern Saudi Arabia on Jan. 5, 2021.

(FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images)

By easing its three-year blockade on Qatar, Saudi Arabia is attempting to improve its troubled relationship with the United States before President-elect Joe Biden takes office. But serious differences between Riyadh and Washington remain, which will continue to create tension in their relationship. On Jan. 4, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt agreed to open their land and maritime borders, as well as their air space, to Qatar. Then on Jan. 5, the same four countries pledged to restore relations with Qatar. The breakthrough came after U.S.- and Kuwait-brokered negotiations between Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, visited Saudi Arabia for the first time since the blockade began in 2017 to attend the GCC conference, where Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman personally greeted him in an event designed to signal a restoration of high-level relations....

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