News Desk |
Jordan in a bid to restore friendly ties with Qatar has announced the appointment of a new ambassador to the tiny Gulf peninsular country on Tuesday. The diplomatic exchange between the two countries is being seen as a blow to the Gulf blockading nations that could potentially weaken the anti-Qatar alliance in the region.
A senior Jordanian career diplomat and secretary general of Jordan’s foreign ministry, Zaid Al Louzi, has been named as the newly appointed ambassador to Doha. Earlier this month, Qatar had named Sheikh Saud bin Nasser bin Jasem al Thani, a member of Doha’s royal family, as its ambassador to Amman which was also approved by Jordan on Tuesday.
The diplomatic ties between the two countries have been restored after a two year hiatus as a result of an economic and political blockade imposed on Qatar by its neighboring states in the Gulf. The blockade led by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain was enforced through a land, airspace and maritime blockade for its alleged support to Middle East’s Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Hamas in Palestine, and Hezbollah in Libya among others. Another reason stated by the blockading quartet had been Qatar’s cordial ties with Iran with which it shares the world’s largest South Pars/North Dome field in the Persian Gulf.
Qatar is a resource rich, wealthy country with gas reserves exceeding 25 trillion cubic meters – 13% of the world total and among countries, third largest in the world.
Although Qatar has supported the cause of freedom-fighters in Palestine, it has denied accusations pertaining to financial support to terrorist groups operating in the region. Jordan under strong influence of its traditional allies in Gulf had also severed diplomatic ties with Qatar just a day after the quartet had announced its blockade decision.
Why did Jordon Join the KSA-UAE Axis?
On June 6 2017, Jordan had announced its decision to withdraw diplomatic mission from the State of Qatar to ensure coordination with its Arab partners in the region. It is widely believed that the strong influence of Saudi Arabia on Jordan had led the country to make the said decision. The Kingdom of SA is reportedly one of the largest financer of Jordon and shares a 731 km long border with it, hence the high level of financial and subsequent geographical dependency.
Although there had been a diplomatic deadlock between Qatar and Jordan, their economic ties had started rebreeding a year after the blockade was imposed. In March 2018, an economic delegation led by the Chairman of Jordan’s Chamber of Commerce, Nael Kabariti, had visited Doha to meet his counterpart to discuss areas of economic cooperation and future prospects.
Following the meeting, a joint business council was convened in Amman for economic cooperation between the two states. Despite the blockade, the trade balance between the two countries had estimated to be $400 million. Moreover, Qatar till date remains the third largest investor in Jordon with financial and real estate investments worth $2 billion.
A Win for Qatar’s Economic Diplomacy
The diplomatic reconciliation between the two countries is being lauded as Qatar’s economic diplomacy success. Qatar is a resource rich, wealthy country with gas reserves exceeding 25 trillion cubic meters – 13% of the world total and among countries, third largest in the world. Proved oil reserves of Qatar exceed 25 billion barrels, allowing production to continue at current levels for about 56 years.
Qatar’s five-year financial assistance package included 10,000 job openings for Jordanian nationals in Doha as well as investment in infrastructure and tourism in Jordan.
Although Qatar has withdrawn from its Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) membership earlier this year due to Saudi-Emirati dominance on the regional body, it has chosen to focus on its strength that is its gas reservoirs. At present Qatar has the capacity to produce 77 million tons of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) per year. However, it plans on to boost the LNG production to 110 million tons a year by 2024.
Qatar is the top exporter of Petroleum Gas ($25.5B), Crude Petroleum ($13.4B), Refined Petroleum ($6.34B), Ethylene Polymers ($2.04B) and Raw Aluminum ($1.06B) through which it has maintained positive trade balance of $30.7B in net exports.
On the other hand Jordan, which unlike Gulf Arab states lacks oil reserves, has long depended on foreign assistance. Qatar’s five-year financial assistance package included 10,000 job openings for Jordanian nationals in Doha as well as investment in infrastructure and tourism in Jordan. Qatar Investment Authority is the sovereign wealth fund of the State of Qatar with a net worth of US$335 billion.
Read more: Qatar Blockade: A Human Rights violation
In June last year, Jordan in a rare occurrence had witnessed anti-government protests due to hike in taxes in a bid to comply with the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) austerity measures. Doha invested $500 million in Jordon to help it balance its economic pressures.