RUSSIA / QATAR – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Moscow is concerned over the escalating tensions in the Persian Gulf region,

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RUSSIA / QATAR – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Moscow is concerned over the escalating tensions in the Persian Gulf region, some five months after a Saudi-led quartet of Arab states imposed a tight blockade on Qatar; and amid Riyadh’s “baseless” accusations against Iran.

“The rising tensions in the Persian Gulf area cause concern. Not only in connection with Iran, but also between the Arab monarchies,” the Russian top diplomat said at meeting of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), a non-profit academic and diplomatic think tank, in the capital Moscow on Tuesday.

Back on June 5, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates imposed a trade and diplomatic embargo on Qatar, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism, an allegation strongly denied by Doha. Later in June, the boycotting states issued a list of demands for Qatar to meet in order for the dispute to be resolved, but Doha has refused to comply with them, slamming the demands as an attack on its sovereignty. In return, the four feuding countries vowed to impose further sanctions on Doha.

A number of attempts to heal the rift have so far been made, but all to no avail, including those of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Kuwaiti Emir Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, whose country has been playing the role of a key mediator since the beginning of the crisis. The coordinated move against Doha is spearheaded by Riyadh, which often manages to have its vassal states fall into line. Saudi Arabia itself is known as the main sponsor of Wahhabi terrorists it has accused Qatar of supporting. Some analysts believe the Saudi anger is rather because Qatar acts independently of Riyadh, including in its relations with Iran.

Iran has taken a neutral stance in the dispute but has sent food supplies to Qatar on humanitarian grounds amid the Saudi-led siege of the country. It has also allowed Qatar’s national carrier to use its airspace.

In the past few weeks, Riyadh has made a number of accusations against Tehran, worsening the already strained bilateral relations. Earlier this month, the Saudis ramped up threats against Iran, blaming Tehran for a missile strike by the Houthi Ansarullah movement from Yemen, which reached Riyadh but was intercepted by the Saudi military. Riyadh and its allies accuse the Houthis of receiving financial and arms support from Iran. The Islamic Republic rejects the accusations, but is supportive of the defensive Yemeni campaign against the brutal Saudi invasion.

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