MIAMI – Saudi Arabia has agreed to open its air, sea, and land borders with Qatar. The move will help to end a dispute that has lasted more than three years and triggered a crisis in the oil-rich Gulf – setting two US allies against each other. According to The Financial Times, Kuwait mediated the agreement and has said that the borders would be open beginning Monday night.

This agreement comes as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salnman, the de facto leader of Saudi Arabia, has increased efforts to end the aforementioned dispute. The Trump administration also pressured the Gulf states to resolve their differences as it sought to claim another diplomatic victory prior to the end of the president’s term.

According to the news outlet, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, Qatar’s emir, will attend a Gulf summit in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday. More details on the agreement will be announced at this event.

It will be the first time the emir has visited the kingdom since Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt cut diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar in June 2017.

Qatar Airways Cargo Boeing 777-F credit: wikicommons

The Dispute

According to Wikipedia, the Qatar–Saudi Arabia diplomatic conflict, sometimes referred to as the Second Arab Cold War, is the ongoing struggle for regional influence between Qatar and Saudi Arabia (KSA), both of which are members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Qatar–Saudi Arabia relations have been especially strained since the beginning of the Arab Spring that left a power vacuum both states sought to fill, with Qatar being supportive of the revolutionary wave and Saudi Arabia opposing it.

Both states are allies of the United States, and have avoided direct conflict with one another.

One apparent reason Washington was eager to see this dispute resolve is that Iran, certainly not a US ally, has benefited financially. The air embargo forced flights to and from Qatar to use Iranian airspace.

Aircraft from Saudia, formerly known as Saudi Arabian Airlines, the flag carrier of Saudi Arabia, based in Jeddah. Photo: Luca Flores/Airways