Last updated: 17 February, 2015

Saudi king and Qatar emir discuss ties, IS seen on agenda

Saudi Arabia's King Salman held talks in Riyadh Tuesday with Qatar's emir, in what an analyst sees as part of a regional effort to strengthen ties against the Islamic State (IS) group.

Qatar’s Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani is the latest Gulf leader to visit Riyadh this week, after Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan and Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, the emir of Kuwait.

He and the Saudi monarch discussed the enhancement of their relations, as well as international developments, the official Saudi Press Agency said.

Anwar Eshki, chairman of the Jeddah-based Centre for Strategic and Legal Studies, said the visits continue efforts begun under Saudi King Abdullah, who died last month, to reconcile Egypt and Qatar amid the rising IS threat.

“I believe they are trying to push Qatar and Egypt to talk together,” he said.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait are the main financial backers of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government, having pledged around $12 billion (10.5 billion euros) to it since he came to power.

Diplomatic relations between Egypt and Qatar soured after the Egyptian army deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 and launched a crackdown on his Doha-backed Muslim Brotherhood.

That triggered a crisis between Qatar and its Gulf neighbours Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE but the three nations have since reinstated their envoys to Doha.

The rise of IS in Libya, on Egypt’s western border, has heightened concerns after the group seized parts of Iraq and Syria last year.

“The Gulf wants Egypt to be a partner, allied against the terrorists in the area,” Eshki said.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, and Kuwait, are all part of a US-led coalition against IS in Syria and Iraq.

Last year UAE warplanes went into action from Egyptian bases in an abortive attempt to prevent Tripoli’s fall to Islamist-backed militia,.

On Monday, Egypt carried out its first announced military action against IS in Libya, after the militants released a video showing their beheading of Egyptian Christians.