Saudi king and Qatar emir strengthen ties

#Diplomacy

Saudi King Salman, Qatari Sheikh Tamim discuss region's affairs

Saudi Arabia's then Crown Prince and now King Salman bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud (L) escorts Qatar's Emir Shiekh Tamim al-Thani as he leaves the royal palace in Riyadh, on 23 November, 2013 (AFP/SPA)
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Wednesday 18 February 2015 10:22 UTC
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Saudi Arabia's King Salman held talks in Riyadh Tuesday with Qatar's emir, in what an analyst sees as part of a regional effort to strengthen ties against the Islamic State (IS) group.

Qatar's Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani is the latest Gulf leader to visit Riyadh this week, after Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan and Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, the emir of Kuwait.

He and the Saudi monarch discussed the enhancement of their relations, as well as international developments, the official Saudi Press Agency said.

Anwar Eshki, chairman of the Jeddah-based Centre for Strategic and Legal Studies, said the visits continue efforts begun under Saudi King Abdullah, who died last month, to reconcile Egypt and Qatar amid the rising IS threat.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait are all part of a US-led coalition against IS in Syria and Iraq.

"I believe they are trying to push Qatar and Egypt to talk together," Eshki said. "The Gulf wants Egypt to be a partner, allied against the terrorists in the area," he added.

But other analysts believe that the new Saudi king is gradually changing course from the path of his predecessor with regards to relations with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait are the main financial backers of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's government, having pledged around $12 billion to it since he came to power.

Diplomatic relations between Egypt and Qatar soured after the Egyptian army deposed elected president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 and launched a crackdown on his Muslim Brotherhood.

That triggered a crisis between Qatar and its Gulf neighbours Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE but the three nations have since reinstated their envoys to Doha.

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister has recently said that Riyadh has "no problem with the Muslim Brotherhood," in the wake of the accession of a new Saudi king expected to be more tolerant towards the group than his predecessor.