Qatar appoints first ambassador to Iraq in 25 years

Saudi Arabia also signalled its intention to reopen an embassy in Baghdad and has invited Abadi to visit the kingdom


Reuters September 11, 2015
Qatar's emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani had issued a decree appointing Zayed al Khayareen as Qatar's "ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to Iraq". PHOTO: AFP

DUBAI: Qatar's emir has appointed an ambassador to Iraq, the first since the embassy was closed 25 years ago, Iraqi and Qatari media said, in the latest sign of a thaw in relations between Gulf Arab countries and Iraq.

Iraq's foreign minister had said in May that Qatar would open an embassy in Baghdad.

Read: Saudi Arabia to reopen Baghdad embassy after 25-year chill

Qatari state media as well as Qatar-owned Al Jazeera said on their websites that Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani had issued a decree appointing Zayed al Khayareen as Qatar's "ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to Iraq".

Tensions between the Sunni Muslim-ruled states of the Gulf and Iraq, which has a Shia majority, have eased since Prime Minister Haider Abadi took office last year.

A rapprochement could help strengthen a regional alliance against Islamic State militants who have seized vast areas in both Iraq and neighbouring Syria.

Saudi Arabia also signalled its intention to reopen an embassy in Baghdad earlier this year and has invited Abadi to visit the kingdom.

Some Gulf states have viewed Iraq as being too close to their main regional rival, Shia power Iran.

Read: Britain and Iran to reopen embassies as ties thaw

Abadi's predecessor, Nouri al Maliki, had accused both Qatar and Saudi Arabia of funding Islamic State insurgents, allegations denied by both countries.

Iraq recalled its ambassador to Qatar this week after the foreign ministry denounced a conference hosted by Doha it said included attendees wanted by Iraqi courts on terrorism charges.

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