Jordan appoints new Qatar envoy, two years after downgrading ties

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Jordan has appointed a new ambassador to Qatar, a step towards restoring normal relations two years after Amman withdrew its ambassador in solidarity with Gulf Arab allies who severed ties with Doha.

Zaid Al Louzi, a senior Jordanian career diplomat and secretary general of Jordan’s foreign ministry, was appointed as the new ambassador to Qatar on Tuesday.

The Jordanian government also said it had accepted Qatar’s nomination of Sheikh Saud bin Nasser bin Jasem al Thani, a member of Doha’s royal family, as ambassador to Amman.

Amman downgraded its diplomatic representation to Qatar in June 2017, a few days afterSaudi Arabia, theUnited Arab Emirates,EgyptandBahrainscrapped all ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting “terrorism” – a charge Doha denies.

The four countries placed trade and travel sanctions, imposing a land, sea and air blockade against the Gulf state. Two years on, there has been little progress towards a resolution of the crisis.

The resumption of normal ties between Jordan and Qatar followed overtures from Doha, the latest when its deputy prime minister and minister of state for defence affairs, Khalid bin Mohammed Al Attiyah, visited Amman in April and signed military cooperation accords.

Last year, Doha alsoextendeda $500m aid package to Jordan only days after Kuwait, the UAE and Saudi Arabia pledged $2.5bn to support the Hashemite Kingdom.

Qatar’s five-year package included opening 10,000 jobs for Jordanian nationals in Doha as well as investment in infrastructure and tourism in Jordan.

The aid packages from the Gulf states aim to help Jordan overcome an economic crisis after a wave of rare anti-government protests.

The demonstrations in June were sparked by proposals to hike taxes as well as austerity measures backed by the International Monetary Fund.

Jordan, which unlike Gulf Arab states lacks oil reserves, has long depended on foreign assistance.

The Reuters news agency said Jordanian officials have voiced private dismay that aid extended by Saudi Arabia, among Jordan’s main donors, has in recent years fallen short of the levels it once delivered to Amman.

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