Sudan has offered to launch “reconciliation” efforts between Qatar and its neighbouring Gulf Arab countries that have cut diplomatic ties with Doha after accusing it of supporting extremism. Arab nations Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Yemen announced on Monday that they were cutting all ties with Qatar, triggering the biggest diplomatic crisis to hit the region in years.
Expressing its “deep concern”, the Sudanese foreign ministry urged the leaders of these countries to stay calm and resolve the crisis. “Sudan is fully ready to undertake all efforts in order to achieve calm and reconciliation that would help serve the interests of the people of the region,” the ministry said in a statement. “Sudan calls on the region’s leaders to work together to overcome this dispute.”
In recent years, Sudan has developed close diplomatic ties with both Saudi Arabia and Qatar, especially after it broke its decades-old relations with Shiite Iran. Qatar has hosted successive rounds of peace talks between the Arab-dominated Khartoum government and Sudan’s ethnic minority rebels who took up arms in 2003 against President Omar al-Bashir’s administration in Darfur.
Arab nations broke ties with Doha after Riyadh accused it of supporting groups, including some backed by Iran, “that aim to destabilise the region”. Qatar reacted with fury, denying any support for extremists and accusing its Gulf neighbours of seeking to put the country under “guardianship”.
Qatar hosts the largest US airbase in the region, which is crucial to the fight against Islamic State group jihadists, and is set to host the 2022 football World Cup.