As the Iranian economy takes a down turn, Qatar, an ally, tries to play ‘mediator’ with US

 

One year after the US President Donald Trump’s pulled out of 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, the Islamic nation’s economy took a down turn. The treaty was signed between Iran and world powers. It prevented Iran from building its nuclear program, in exchange of lifting economic sanctions. The tensions between the two nations got escalated further since April with imposition of US sanctions aimed at cutting off Iran’s oil exports, in an attempt to cripple its economy.

After the decision, the US sanctions on Iran’s financial and automotive sectors and oil industry took effect on August 7, 2018 and November 5, 2018, respectively. The Iranian economy continues to suffer the economic toll due to falling oil exports and rising inflation. Iran has the third-largest oil reserves among the members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) after Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. The second phase of US sanction started in May 2019, when it pulled up the waivers granted to eight largest buyers of Iranian crude. This caused dramatic decline Iran’s revenue and it is estimated to cost the Tehran nearly $10 billion loss in revenues.

The drop in the main source of revenues and the heavy investment in the Syrian war caused a major blow to the Iranian currency. In May, Rial tumbled nearly 135 percent against US dollar. According to International Monetary Fund, Iran’s economy shrank by 3.9 percent last year and is expected to shrink by 6 percent in 2019.

The things got worse with US’s deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group to deter any Iranian attacks on US vessels. The US also blamed recent attacks on Saudi, Norwegian and Emirati tankers on Tehran, which Iran denied.

With Iranian economy at its lowest, it is important for it to negotiate and resolve issues with US on table. The nation which is taking extra effort to be a ‘mediator’ between the two is State of Qatar. Besides Qatar’s  seemingly genuine efforts its credibility as a ‘mediator’ stands questioned. Doha has a very dubious track record in this regard, which undermines its credibility to play such a role.

Qatar is an Iranian ally, who owns its allegiance to the Islamic nation and has supported Iran’s militias with $ 425 million in the past. Besides, the presence of Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar is dangerous to US, because the military information of US forces is transferred to Iran.

The tiny gulf nation with abundant financial resources has shaken the dynamics of the entire Middle East region by extending support to Islamist extremist factions like Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. Between 2012 and 2018, Qatar provided Hamas with over $1.1 billion. Besides, Hamas, Qatar also strengthened ties with Hezbollah, another militant extremist group in Lebanon.

Al Jazeera International, a media house owned by the Emir of the State of Qatar, the mouth piece of Qatari regime, is used to for broadcasting propaganda of extremist groups, promoting virulent anti-Semitism and achieving other political goals.

In Syria, Qatar, along with its Turkish allies partnered with a range of militias including Free Syrian army and Jabhat Al Nusra  from 2011 to 2013.

Qatar is interfering in Libya through its fundings. An exiled Libyan resident in Doha, Ali Al Sallabi, became the key source of sending money and arms to Islamist groups in Benghazi.

Qatar, which not only finances but also provides shelter to various miscreants associated with terrorist organisations, is trying to gain strategic advantage by showing that it is helping US with its regional foreign policy for even conducting negotiations with Hamas and with the Taliban.

The play on “mediation” is not new. Qatar has long had two faces to its foreign policy, which allows it to secure protection from Western countries even as it seeks to destabilise the Middle East region.

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