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Saudi Arabia and its allies are expected to sign a deal Tuesday officially ending a feud with Qatar in an agreement negotiated by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, a government official confirmed Monday.
The détente — designed to further isolate Iran — follows a slew of historic Middle East peace deals brokered by the Trump White House in recent months normalizing relations between Israel and some of its Arab neighbors.
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Tuesday’s deal will set in motion the end of a four-year-old blockade of Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Bahrain who, in 2017, accused Qatar’s leaders of supporting terrorism and aligning itself with Iran.
Kushner helped broker the deal over the past few weeks and flew to Saudi Arabia on Monday to witness the signing at the Gulf Cooperation Council meeting, the official said.
Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner speaks to reporters at the guest house next to the royal palace in Rabat, Morocco, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020. Kushner led a delegation from Israel to Morocco on Tuesday on the first known direct flight since the two countries agreed to establish full diplomatic ties earlier this month as part of a series of U.S.-brokered normalization accords with Arab countries.<br>
(AP Photo/Abdeljalil Bounhar)
Under the agreement, Saudi Arabia will open its airspace to Qatari planes on the condition Qatar Airways drops a $5 billion lawsuit against the four nations seeking damages for the blockade.
The United States’ largest military base in the region is located in Qatar, where it is able to carry out airstrikes against the Islamic State and Taliban, making Washington a victim of the blockade.
Qatar was forced to reroute its air traffic over Iran, strengthening Tehran which was earning extra revenue by leasing its airspace to Qatar, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
The oil-rich kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its allies launched a diplomatic siege against the smaller Arab kingdom in June 2017 and issued a list of 17 demands, including shutting-down the Al Jazeera news network and downgrading relations with Turkey and Iran.
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Kushner, 39, has developed a close relationship with Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, 35, and visited Riyadh in November in a bid to end the blockade.
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