Iran’s semi-official ISNA news agency reported Sunday that Qatar’s ambassador to the Islamic Republic is back in the job, after arriving in Tehran on Friday. Qatar pulled its representative from Iran in early 2016 after attacks on two Saudi Arabian diplomatic posts following the Saudi execution of a prominent Shiite cleric.
Qatar’s decision to reinstate the ambassador threatens to deepen the region’s worst diplomatic crisis in decades by ignoring the demands of the emirate’s neighbors—a group of Saudi-led Gulf States—to isolate Iran.
Qatar said in a statement released on Thursday that the ambassador would “return to resume his diplomatic duties,” adding that “The State of Qatar expressed its aspiration to strengthen bilateral relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran in all fields.”
The reset of ties between the two countries could also benefit Iran’s position in the Syrian crisis by further blurring the lines between Sunni and Shiite allegiances and adding a second Sunni-majority state to its regional network. Qatar and Iran are also expected to join forces to counter-balance Saudi Arabia’s interests on the Arabian Peninsula, including in Yemen.
The diplomatic crisis began in June, when a group of Saudi-led Gulf States, together with Egypt and Jordan, cut ties to Qatar over its sponsorship of terrorism and warm relations with Iran. The boycotting countries later compiled a list of 13 criteria for Qatar to meet to end the diplomatic stalemate, including shutting down its diplomatic posts in Iran.
Doha has a long history of supporting various radical Islamist groups and movements across the Middle East, including the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, and has bankrolled with hundreds of millions radical Islamist opposition groups in Libya and Syria, which has angered its neighbors.