Saudi Arabia to open airspace, borders to Qatar
By Salima Lebel and Gregory Walton
KUWAIT CITY/DOHA – Saudi Arabia will reopen its borders and airspace to Qatar, the Kuwaiti foreign minister said Monday (4), more than three years after Riyadh sealed both and led an alliance to isolate Doha.
“Based on (Kuwait’s ruler Emir) Sheikh Nawaf’s proposal, it was agreed to open the airspace and land and sea borders between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the State of Qatar, starting from this evening,” said Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Ahmad Nasser Al-Sabah on state TV.
The bombshell announcement came on the eve of a six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) annual summit in the northwestern Saudi Arabian city of Al-Ula, at which the dispute was already set to top the agenda.
Riyadh led a coalition of countries in the Gulf and beyond that cut ties with Doha, charging that it was too close to Tehran and backed radical Islamist groups — allegations that Qatar has always denied.
Washington has intensified pressure for a resolution to what Doha calls a “blockade”, insisting Gulf unity is necessary to isolate US nemesis Iran as the curtain falls on Donald Trump’s presidency.
Many eyes have been on whether Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani – who has skipped the annual GCC gatherings since 2017 – attends this time around.
The GCC is a bloc that consists of boycotting countries Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, neutral Kuwait and Oman, and Qatar.
The Saudi-led GCC hawks, along with Egypt, in June 2017 closed airspace to Qatari planes, sealed borders and ports, and expelled Qatari citizens.