Saudi Arabia and its allies are expected to sign a US-brokered deal with Qatar on Tuesday to end a yearslong rift between the Middle Eastern countries prompted by Doha’s relations with Iran and alleged support for terror groups.
Citing an official familiar with the development, Reuters reported White House adviser Jared Kushner, aided by US State Department adviser Brian Hook and Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz, helped to broker the deal.
Under the agreement, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt will call off their blockade of Qatar; in exchange, Qatar will not pursue any lawsuits related to the blockade that was initiated in June 2017. Earlier this year, Qatar Airways revealed that it was seeking at least $5 billion in compensation over the blocked airspace.
Additionally, as part of the deal, all involved parties will be expected to cease their media campaigns against each other. In earlier, since-rejected demands issued by Saudi Arabia and company, Qatar was ordered to shut down Al Jazeera and its affiliated stations.
“This is the biggest breakthrough we’ve had to date,” an unidentified senior Trump administration official told the Wall Street Journal. “It doesn’t mean they will love each other and be best friends, but it does mean they will be able to work together.”
The deal is expected to be signed by leaders on Tuesday during the annual Gulf Cooperation Council summit in the Saudi capital of Riyadh. Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will be in attendance for the signing.
Kuwait, which served as a mediator during the talks, said during a televised announcement Monday that as part of the eased tensions, Saudi Arabia will open its air, land and sea borders with Qatar for the first time in three years starting on Monday night. Qatar’s land border with Saudi Arabia has only been briefly opened so Qataris can perform the Islamic hajj pilgrimage.
"The Kuwaiti emir held phone talks on Monday night with the Qatari emir and the Saudi crown prince, who affirmed their commitment to strengthening brotherly relations between countries in the region,” said Ahmed Nasser Al-Sabah, Kuwait’s foreign minister. “They agreed to sign a pact at the end of the summit in Al Ula that will settle all conflict issues.”
Sources told Axios the deal nearly “fell apart” over the weekend after a “last-minute miscommunication” sparked new tensions between Saudi and Qatari officials.
Despite allegations made by Saudi Arabia and its allies, Qatar has repeatedly denied that it supports terrorism. After the Arab bloc made its intentions regarding the blockade known in 2017, the Qatari Foreign Ministry issued a statement noting that there was “no legitimate justification” for the action.