Qatar nudges closer to Iran, criticises US oil sanctions
In a display of support for Iran, the foreign minister of US-allied Qatar said on Wednesday that Washington's decision not to extend sanction waivers on Iranian oil exports would have an "adverse impact on countries benefiting from Iranian oil."
The United States has demanded that buyers of Iranian oil stop purchases by May 1 or face the prospect of sanctions, ending six months of waivers that had allowed Iran's eight biggest customers, most of them in Asia, to import limited volumes.
"The sanctions should not be extended because they have an adverse impact on countries benefiting from Iranian oil," Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani told a press conference in Doha.
"In Qatar, we do not believe unilateral sanctions bring positive effects for crises which must be solved through dialogue and dialogue only," he added.
Oil markets have tightened this year due to supply cuts led by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The White House said after its Iran move that it was working with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to ensure oil markets were "adequately supplied."
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar in June 2017, accusing it of supporting terrorism and of establishing close ties with regional foe Iran. Doha denies the charges and says the boycott aims to undermine its national sovereignty.
Iran has helped Qatar secure economic supplies since the Arab quartet's boycott was imposed.
Qatar moving closer to Iran could harm already strained relations between Doha and Washington.
Also likely to add to the tension is US President Donald Trump's move to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organisation.
Qatar supports the Muslim Brotherhood and hosts a number of designated terrorists on its soil.
(Arab Weekly staff and news agencies)