Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani  - CC via Wikimedia Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani - CC via Wikimedia

Iran takes advantage of Qatari crisis

Fri, Nov. 3, 2017
CAIRO – 3 November 2017: Since the Qatari crisis broke out in early June, Iran has taken advantage of the gap caused by the Arab boycott of the Gulf emirate to boost ties with Qatar at the expense of the stability of the Gulf region.

Qatar’s relations with several Arab states have been strained since May 24 over a leaked statement attributed to Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad criticizing Gulf foreign policy with Iran, describing it as “unwise.”

On June 5, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and imposed economic sanctions, accusing it of funding terrorism – a claim Qatar rejects. They also closed their airspace and seaports to Qatari transportation.

The Qatar-Iran relations can be divided into two stages. The initial stage was described as “alliance relations”, but in the current situation of the Arab boycott, these ties can be seen as “conspiratorial relations”.

Aiming to deepen the Gulf split, Iran decided to turn a blind eye on Qatar’s funding of Sunni extremist groups in Syria and Iraq that fight Iranian influence in the region, choosing instead to support the Qatari emir in his country’s crisis to achieve economic and political gains.

Although Qatar is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, it relies heavily on importing food, as most of the country consists of desert. According to the World Bank’s data, the Arab nation has imported about $1 billion of foodstuffs in 2015, with about a third of that coming from Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The condition in Qatar has created an opportunity for the Iranian food industry to supply products to the Gulf nation.

Mohammad Lahooti, the chairman of the Iran Export Confederation, said the Qatari condition offered a unique opportunity for the Iranian economy, asserting that Iran should take advantage of the current situation as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, Iran’s biggest confectionery company, Shirin Asal Food Industrial Group, is planning to enter Qatar’s retail market. With a turnover of about $5 billion per annum, the group announced it was planning to set up a factory in Qatar. The company, which produces more than 1,000 products, conducted a four-month-long market study in Qatar and got encouraging feedback.
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