Arab states cut Qatar ties in major diplomatic crisis

By AFP

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A man walks past the Qatar Airways branch in the Saudi capital Riyadh on June 5th, after it suspended all flights to Saudi Arabia following a severing of relations between major Gulf states and Qatar. Arab nations cut ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting extremism, in the biggest diplomatic crisis to hit the region in years. [Faye Nureldine/AFP]

Arab nations on Monday (June 5th) cut ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting extremism in the biggest diplomatic crisis to hit the region in years.

Bahrain, the UAE, Yemen and the Maldives joined Saudi Arabia and Egypt in severing relations with Qatar, with Riyadh accusing Doha of supporting groups, including some backed by Iran, "that aim to destabilise the region".

The Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said Riyadh cut diplomatic ties and closed borders with its neighbour to "protect its national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism".

The "decisive" measure was due to "gross violations committed by authorities in Qatar over the past years", the Saudi statement said.

The UAE followed suit, and Egypt's foreign ministry also accused Doha of supporting "terrorism" as it announced the severing of diplomatic relations and the closure of Egyptian ports and airports to Qatari vessels and planes.

Bahrain's news agency said the kingdom was cutting ties with Doha over its insistence on "shaking the security and stability of Bahrain and meddling in its affairs".

Qatar reacted with fury, denying any support for extremists and accusing its Gulf neighbours of seeking to put the country under "guardianship".

The crisis was likely to have wide-ranging consequences, not just for Qatar and its citizens but around the Middle East and world.

Weeks of rising tensions

Monday's announcement followed weeks of rising tensions between Doha and its neighbours, including Qatari accusations of a concerted media campaign against it and the alleged hacking of the Qatar News Agency.

The Gulf states and Egypt said they were severing diplomatic ties and closing transport links with Qatar, which relies on imports from its neighbours.

The Gulf states banned their citizens from travelling to Qatar and ordered Qatari citizens to leave within 14 days.

Saudi Arabia closed its borders with Qatar, and "all land, sea and aviation ports", effectively blocking food and other supplies exported by land to Qatar.

Local media in Qatar reported there was already some panic buying as people stock up on food.

The Qatar Stock Exchange tumbled 8% on opening and eventually closed down 7.58%.

Riyadh accused Doha of harbouring "terrorist and sectarian groups that aim to destabilise the region", including the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) and al-Qaeda.

The kingdom also accused Doha of supporting Iran-backed "terrorist activities" in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province, as well as in Bahrain.

Qatar has consistently denied any support for extremists or Iran and did so again after Monday's move by its neighbours.

"The measures are unjustified and are based on false and baseless claims," the Qatari foreign ministry said, insisting authorities would "take all measures necessary... to foil attempts to affect or harm Qatar's society and economy".

Economic consequences

Economic consequences were already emerging, with UAE carriers Emirates, Etihad, flydubai and Air Arabia, as well as Saudi Airlines, announcing the suspension of all flights to and from Qatar.

Qatar Airways -- one of the region's busiest airlines -- said it had suspended all flights to Saudi Arabia with immediate effect, at least until the end of Monday.

Abu Dhabi's Etihad and Dubai's Emirates airlines said flights would stop on Tuesday, after the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain said they would cut all air, land and sea links with Qatar within 24 hours.

Both carriers said the measure will stay in place "until further notice".

Saudi Airlines said it was suspending flights to Qatar with immediate effect.

Arab coalition expels Qatar

The Arab coalition battling the Iran-backed Houthis (Ansarallah) in Yemen said it had expelled Qatar from the group.

The coalition accused Qatar of providing "support to (terrorist) organisations in Yemen" -- the first time it has made such a claim.

Gulf countries previously recalled their ambassadors from Qatar in 2014, but Monday's moves go much further.

Turkey, which enjoys friendly relations with Qatar and other Gulf countries, offered its help, with Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu saying, "We will give any kind of support for the situation to be normalised."

Hints of an impending crisis emerged last month when Doha alleged that hackers were behind the release of false remarks attributed to Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani published on the Qatar News Agency website.

Doha denied the comments and said it had been the victim of a "shameful cybercrime".

The crisis is the worst to hit Gulf Arab nations since the creation in 1981 of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) grouping Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar.

There was no immediate word from Kuwait and Oman on Monday on their ties with Qatar.

Last week, the Qatari emir travelled to Kuwait to meet Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah in what was widely seen as an attempt at mediation by the Kuwaitis.

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17 Comment(s)

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Qatar is the biggest financier of international terrorism. This is because it has a sense of inferiority given that it's a small, useless state. Therefore, it tried to attract attention first to make it for its inferiority, and second to prove that it's a state with influence.

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O, you're a nation that other nations have made fun of because of your ignorance!

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Qatar is a small state, but it it has become a big country in the eyes of all Arabs from the ocean to the Gulf, and even throughout al-Hijaz.

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The Arab Spring has given Iran the chance to intervene. We don't want a state that has betrayed the nation; a state that has allied itself with the Tatars when they betrayed the Sunni people.

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Saudi Arabia is the head of terrorism. It is the cause of destruction in the Arab nation. May God damn you, o, kings of Saudi Arabia! You'll have your day, one day!

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May God mend these matters! What is happening is disappointing to the Arab and Muslim nation. The region can no longer bear divisions.

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Saudi Arabia, the servants of America and Israel, is more dangerous than the Shia!

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Allah suffices me against those who are igniting fitna among the Gulf [countries]!

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May God damn you, Qatar! You're infidels! You're helping Iran and supporting terrorism. You have no shame, and your fate will be in hell. You pay no regard to brothers or neighbours. You're traitors and dogs! May God damn and damn all those who have supported terrorism and injustice! God suffices me; He gives respite, but never neglects.

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Qatar and Turkey are acting contrary to the traitors against their masters.

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We're all Qatar! Greetings to the Emir, government and people of Qatar!

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The reactions of our Arab brothers to the charges made against Qatar are not too much in view of what it has done. I consider the severance of relations with it to be too little; it has to be punished with the punishment of treason.

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You're the most unjust people in humanity. You couldn't do anything at all against the Zionist state of Israel which has controlled you and controlled other operatives in the Gulf for 60 years. Your criminal attack has coincided with the setback. Do you think that the peoples don't know who you are?! You're all traitors. When there were fair elections in the region after the Arab Spring, you saw how you couldn't sell your Zionist project. This is because the peoples didn't give you trust, and won't give it to you and because you're traitors. Hadn't it been for the bloody coup which these repressive states supported, you would have been thrown into the garbage bins of history. Terrorism is the rejection of the will of the nation; it's the support of criminals like al-Sisi the traitor, Haftar, Bashar and Shias in Iraq. Everyone knows the truth. We are no longer absent-minded as you think. Hadn't it been for our government which has failed us, we would have come to support the oppressed honest people in Egypt who have always been honest. May God punish you all because you want to bring us back to how it was before the Arab Spring. In Morocco, we know that the terrorist is the one who has killed Egyptians for the sake of Jews, i.e. al-Sisi, the butcher and criminal, and those who are with him. We're all Qatar! We're all Tamim who has carried the torch of truth to support the oppressed. Look who is with those boycotters; they're powerless states that beg for rice from th

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We pray to God Almighty that things will return to normal. If Qatar supports the Shia, we pray to God to guide it because the Shia are much more dangerous to it than the Gulf boycott of it. We have already had experiences with Iran, and we have only got the corruption of mind and religion.

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May Allah damn Al Salul, the shoes of America! They're implementing what pig Trump is asking them to do in the Middle East where they start by barking! May Allah shame you! Where are you from God?

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How's work in Qatar?

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Saudi Arabia's direct intervention in Qatar's affairs is aimed at one thing only: dominating the Qatari state. This is a proof of mental and moral weakness on the part of the Saudi authorities. O, Saudi government, clean your country of corruption and then intervene in other countries' affairs. The people and government of Qatar are mature. O, dear Qatar, we're with you! Go ahead, Qatar!

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