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Restoring Relations between Bahrain and Qatar amidst Rapid Disintegration in the Gulf Region

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After four years of boycott, Bahrain and Qatar agreed to restore diplomatic relations, and Bahrain was the last of four Arab countries to lift its boycott since 2017.

Qatar’s four neighbors were angered by Doha’s alleged support for groups that rose to power in some countries in the wake of the 2011 Arab Spring protests.

The boycott was lifted at the start of 2021, and Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt have since restored relations with Qatar, with top leaders paying state visits in recent months.

Both Bahrain and Qatar issued official statements announcing the decision to restore relations after a meeting between their delegations at the headquarters of the Gulf Cooperation Council, a bloc of six countries, in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

The four countries severed all ties with Qatar, and at the height of the crisis there was talk in the local media of digging a trench along the 87-kilometer (54-mile) border between Qatar and Saudi Arabia and filling it with nuclear waste. .

However, the boycott had little impact on the Qatari economy. The small Gulf country, which hosted the FIFA World Cup last year, is one of the richest countries on earth due to its vast reserves of natural gas. Türkiye stepped in to help Qatar during the crisis.

Wednesday’s agreement comes amid regional efforts by old foes to mend ties after years of war and turmoil sparked by the 2011 protests.

Saudi Arabia welcomed the Syrian foreign minister earlier Wednesday. It was the latest sign that the Arab League might be ready to reinstate Damascus after it was suspended from membership more than a decade ago as Bashar al-Assad waged a brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

Last month, Saudi Arabia and its main regional rival, Iran, agreed to restore diplomatic ties that were severed in 2016, in a deal brokered by China.

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