Following the move by seven Arab nations to cut diplomatic relations with Qatar after they accused Doha of supporting terrorism in its ties to Iran, Tehran has said it is willing to provide emergency supplies to the country if necessary.
“Tehran is ready to provide Qatar with the food and nutrients it needs, within 12 hours,” said Reza Nourani, chairman of the union of exporters of agricultural products.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Libya, Yemen, and the Maldives announced earlier on June 5 that they had severed diplomatic relations with Qatar to protect their “national security.”
In a panic following the news, Qataris rushed to the supermarkets to stock up, reports say.
According to media reports, immediately after the announcement, people across Qatar began stockpiling food to ward off possible shortages in the coming days.
Meanwhile, trucks loaded with deliveries destined for Qatar are lining up at the Saudi borders and are not being allowed to pass.
Qatar depends on its only land route, bordering Saudi Arabia, for all of its food imports.
“Qatar’s only land route is closed. Therefore, Iran is the nearest country to Qatar, and it can provide Doha with the foodstuffs it needs through sea routes within 12 hours,” Fars News Agency quoted Nourani as saying.
“Following our coordination with the Valfajr Shipping Co., the needed facilities to provide exports to Qatar are prepared at the ports of Bushehr, Bandar Abbas, and Bandar Lengeh,” Nourani said.
Qatar annually imports between $4 billion and $5 billion worth of nutrient products and other foodstuffs from countries such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates. Now, under intensified sanctions, Qatar faces a crisis.
While competing with Saudi Arabia in the region, Iran has close ties with Doha.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi reminded Arab states of the region’s shared bitter past and called on them to exercise the utmost restraint. Qassemi urged the four nations to resolve their disputes through “direct and transparent” talks instead of cutting diplomatic ties.
Furthermore, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif criticized the unexpected diplomatic row and recommended talks be held among the countries involved.
“Neighbors are permanent; geography cannot be changed. Violence is never the solution,” Zarif emphasized on his Twitter account. “Dialogue is imperative, especially during the blessed month of Ramadan.”