Six Gulf countries led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE have cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing the country of supporting terrorism and Iran.
The six countries which also include Egypt, Libya, Bahrain and Yemen claimed that Qatar backed terrorist groups such as ISIS and Al Qaeda – which Qatar has strongly denied.
The Saudi state news agency SPA said Riyadh had closed its borders, severing land, sea and air contact with the tiny oil-rich country.
Latest developments include:
In the latest developments:
- The UAE and Egypt have given Qatari diplomats 48 hours to leave their countries
- Airlines from many of the affected countries, including EgyptAir, Etihad Airways and Emirates, said they are to cancel flights to and from Doha
- The Gulf allies said they had closed their airspace to Qatar Airways, which has suspended all its flights to Saudi Arabia
- Bahrain’s state news agency said it was cutting its ties because Qatar was “shaking the security and stability of Bahrain and meddling in its affairs”
- The Saudi-led Arab coalition fighting Yemen’s Houthi rebels also expelled Qatar from its alliance because of its “practices that strengthen terrorism” and its support of extremist groups.
The Qatari government said that the decision was “unjustified” with “no basis in fact”.
This extraordinary decision is a historic split between the major Gulf countries, all of whom are key US allies in the region.
The tension is allegedly related to ongoing problems between the Gulf countries and their eastern neighbour Iran.
Saudi Arabia accused Qatar of colluding with “Iranian-backed terrorist groups” in its restive Eastern region of Qatif and in Bahrain.
However, Saudi’s given reasoning about Qatar’s alleged links with Iran could be cover for the real problem – the Muslim Brotherhood.
Qatar currently has a cordial relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood, and has hosted a number of senior members in exile.
In addition to this, Qatar also has a warm relationship with Hamas and hosts some of the group’s senior leaders, who have reportedly been asked to leave the country in response to the boycott.
President Donald Trump recently visited Saudi Arabia and has previously discussed banning Muslim Brotherhood linked institutions and charities in the US.
As Gulf countries strengthen their political and economic ties with Israel, Qatar’s relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas could be seen as a hindrance to these developments with the occupying Zionist entity.