JEDDAH, October 13, 2014 (AFP) – The emir of Qatar held talks with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah on Monday night, official media said, while both Gulf nations battle Islamic State extremists in Syria.
The Saudi monarch received “his brother” Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani at the palace in Jeddah on the Red Sea, the Saudi Press Agency said.
“During the meeting, they discussed cooperation between the two countries in addition to the overall events and developments in the Arab, Islamic and international arena,” the report said without elaborating.
Saudi Arabia and Qatar, along with their Gulf neighbours Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, have taken part in or given support to US-led coalition air strikes against extremists of the Islamic State group in Syria.
The joint air campaign began in late September after regional fear of the IS jihadists made Gulf monarchies set aside disputes over Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood, analysts said.
Qatar’s relations with Riyadh, the Emirates and Bahrain sank to a new low in March when the three governments withdrew their ambassadors from Doha, accusing it of meddling in their affairs and supporting the Brotherhood — designated as “terrorist” by Riyadh.
Doha later asked Brotherhood leaders to leave Qatar, after diplomatic pressure from Saudi Arabia.
But differences remain.
Syria’s main opposition bloc, the National Coalition, failed to agree on a prime minister during a weekend summit in Turkey because Saudi Arabia and Qatar supported different candidates, a Coalition member said.
The official said the two frontrunners for the post were Walid al-Zohbi — seen as being close to Riyadh — and Ahmad Tohme, who is linked to Syria’s influential Muslim Brotherhood and is reportedly backed by Doha.
The rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, two of the most vocal Arab detractors of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, has plagued Syria’s political opposition since its inception in 2012, the year after rebel groups began fighting Assad.
The National Coalition is recognised by scores of states and organisations as a legitimate representative of the Syrian people.