Last updated: 26 June, 2013

Iran hopes new Qatari emir will reconsider Syria policy

Iran on Wednesday expressed hope that Qatar’s new emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, will reconsider his country’s policy of support for rebels in war-torn Syria, reports said.

Sheikh Tamim took over on Tuesday as ruler of Qatar, which under his father played a leading role in support for the rebels who have been fighting to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime since 2011.

“We hope that Sheikh Tamim contemplates the situation in Syria and reconsiders (his nation’s) past policies,” Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said, quoted by ISNA news agency.

“So the Syrian people can be saved from this pain, no more blood is spilled and peace and stability return… We hope Sheikh Tamim gives this issue a special attention,” Salehi added.

His remarks were the first from Iran concerning Qatar since Sheikh Tamim took over from his father, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, who abdicated after 18 years.

Shiite Iran has often criticised the Sunni Muslim-ruled states of Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey for supporting mainly Sunni rebels fighting to oust the Syrian regime, which is dominated by Alawites, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

Iran, the Assad regime’s main regional ally, shares a huge offshore gas oil field with Qatar.

It looks upon many Syrian opposition groups as “terrorists” backed by Western and Arab states, but supports dialogue that would lead to the forming of a reconciliation committee aimed at ending the conflict.