(Photo Credit: MOFA)
The foreign ministers of Qatar and Bahrain met in Saudi Arabia’s capital on 7 February to establish procedures for bilateral negotiations to resolve “pending issues.”
The meeting involved Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani and his Qatari counterpart Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, as the two discussed exploring “necessary mechanisms and procedures to launch discussions at the level of bilateral committees,” marking the first meeting of its kind between the two Gulf states since the 2017 Gulf Cooperation Crisis.
Talks concerning the revival of bilateral discussions between Doha and Manama were initially proposed during last year’s Al-Ula GCC Summit in Riyadh to resolve regional tensions with Qatar.
During the summit, participating ministers affirmed their interest in boosting regional cooperation with Qatar, further consolidating unity amongst the GCC states.
Last month, Bahraini Minister of Transportation and Telecommunications Mohammed al-Kaabi disclosed that direct flights between Bahrain and Qatar are set to resume “soon.”
Kaabi said that both sides had reached an agreement between the civil aviation authorities, adding that the “scheduling matter” is still under review, signifying the initial steps for Doha and Manama to normalize relations.
Bahrain cut ties with Qatar on 5 June 2017, following Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, over Doha’s support for extreme militant groups in the region, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, Iranian-backed groups, and Al-Qaeda. However, experts suggest that the collective severing of ties with Qatar was mainly accredited to pressure from Saudi Arabia.
Bahrain blamed Qatar’s “media incitement, support for armed terrorist activities, and funding linked to Iranian groups to carry out sabotage and spreading chaos in Bahrain” for its decision.
Bahrain also reportedly blamed Qatar for allegedly launching a cyber attack against the Twitter account of Bahrain’s former foreign minister, Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa.
In June 2022, UAE National Security Adviser Tahnoun bin Zayed Al-Nahyan met with Qatar’s Emir to discuss the advancement of bilateral relations and several regional developments of common interest, days after Doha’s Emir visited Egypt for the first time since 2015.