Qatar’s army and navy have grown rapidly as the country spends billions of dollars to protect itself.
The Arab nations that blockaded Qatar for more than three years have lifted the boycott against its Gulf neighbour and Doha in response froze all state-related legal action against the countries, sources familiar with the negotiations say.
Saudi Arabia on Monday announced the restoration of ties with Qatar after the three-and-a-half-year spat saw the kingdom, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic and trade ties and impose a land, sea and air blockade on the Gulf state.
Saudi Arabia and its three Arab allies agreed to restore full diplomatic and trade ties with Doha at a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit in the kingdom on Tuesday.
The quartet had accused Qatar of, among other things, supporting terrorist groups and being too close to Iran, the allegations Doha has consistently denied.
In 2017, the quartet issued a list of demands, which included that Doha end its alleged support for the Muslim Brotherhood, close Al Jazeera Media Network, downgrade diplomatic ties with Iran, and shut down a Turkish military base in Qatar.
Doha has baulked at the demands since they were issued and none of the 13 was implemented.
The Washington Post, citing a person with knowledge of the agreement, reported that Saudi Arabia and its allies dropped the list of 13 demands.
Qatar then agreed to freeze a litany of lawsuits against the blockading states, said the person who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The move was made with US President-elect Joe Biden set to take office later this month. Biden has warned he would press Saudi Arabia over its human rights record and its bloody war in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE had disagreed over whether to end the boycott of Qatar with the UAE resisting the move, the Post reported. But Riyadh “wanted to end the blockade and didn’t want to have this issue remain on its plate as the Biden administration comes into office”.
A source familiar with the mediation process told the Financial Times that Qatar was expected to freeze state-related legal cases launched against the quartet at the World Trade Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization, among others, after Saudi Arabia lifted the blockade.
Sultan Barakat, director of the Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies at the Doha Institute, said Qatar has emerged as a more resilient country since the blockade was imposed.
“Over the last few years, the Qataris have managed to learn to live with the blockade and that has helped them discover better ways of living and more efficient ways of sustaining their economy and managing their affairs,” Barakat told Al Jazeera.
“This resulted in an extremely resilient country that has demonstrated itself in the lifting of the blockade without them having to address the totally irrational 13 conditions,” he said.
It is unclear how much Qatar will revert to its previous trade ties with the blockading countries after establishing new networks over the past three years. Economic relations with countries such as Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan have strengthened significantly since 2017.