08/17/2017, 10.58
SAUDI ARABIA - QATAR

Riyadh opens the border with Qatar to let pilgrims in

King Salman orders the reopening of the Salwa border area. A gesture of courtesy towards the Muslim population and Muslims, but the deep divisions between the two countries remain. Bahrain accuses Qatar of fomenting the anti-government revolts of the past. It points to contacts between the former Doha premier and the former leader of the internal opposition.

Riyadh (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Saudi king Salman ordered the reopening of the border with Qatar to facilitate the entry of the faithful on the occasion of the Hajj, the greatest pilgrimage to Mecca that every Muslim must accomplish at least once in his life.

Announced by the official media, the decision constitutes a small signal of desegregation in the relations between Riyadh and Doha, protagonists of a serious diplomatic and commercial crisis in early June, and which grew with the passing weeks.

The Salwa border area has been closed since the initial stages of the dispute opposing Qatar and various Arab and Muslim nations (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain) as well as Egypt and Somalia. In recent days, hereditary Prince Mohammed bin Salman,  had received a Doha diplomat in the first high-level meeting between the two countries.

King Salman agreed "to the entry of pilgrims from Qatar" to participate in the Hajj and without having to show the "electronic permit". He also ordered private jets from Saudi Airlines to land at Doha Airport to "transport all Qatari pilgrims at their expense".

Last month, in view of the major pilgrimage that begins in early September, Saudi Arabia's leaders had allowed the entry of Qatar citizens, in spite of the ongoing crisis with Doha . On the other hand, the leaders of the emirate point their finger at Riyadh, accusing it of "politicizing" the Hajj and compromising the pilgrimage, endangering the security of the faithful.

Analysts and experts point out that this "opening up" of the Saudi king seems to be a gesture of good will towards the people of Qatar, Muslims, and certainly not a turning point in diplomatic relations with Doha. Divisions remain and there are no solutions on the horizon.

According to some, the clash between Qatar and Saudi Arabia originates from the ties between Doha and Tehran, the Saudis’ number one enemy in the region. Other analysts and experts believe that there is a counterattack to Sunni Islam and, in particular, between Doha and Abu Dhabi.

The controversy also involved Qatar Al Jazeera's satellite channel, which Riyadh wants to close.

Meanwhile, the Bahrain State TV has opened a front, accusing Qatar of fomenting the anti-government revolts that were promoted in the past by the Shiite opposition. The proof lies in a recording of a phone call between Qatar's former prime minister Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani and the leader of outlawed party Wefaq, Ali Salman, in which they agreed to an escalation of the protests.

The goal was to "undermine the interests and stability" of the nation. Bahrain’s public prosecutor has opened an investigation, while the Qatar authorities do  not want to comment officially. (DS)

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