Qatar cut off by almost all neighbouring countries
Qatar has been dramatically cut off by a Saudi-led coalition of Arab nations, claiming it’s because of its ‘support for terrorism’.
In what is one of the worst rifts among some of the Arab world’s most powerful states, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain followed Saudi Arabia in severing all ties to Qatar.
Then, in a further blow to the country, Libya’s eastern government announced it would also cut ties to Doha.
Almost immediately after announcing the shock move, the three Gulf states gave Qatari tourists and residents just two weeks to leave their countries, and transport links to the country were cut off.
Qatar, which shares borders with Saudi, Bahrain and the UAE, has also been expelled from a Saudi-led military coalition fighting in Yemen.
The coordinated move dramatically escalates a dispute over Qatar’s support of the Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s oldest Islamist movement – and even adds accusations that Qatar backs the agenda of regional arch-rival Iran.
An economic crisis loomed immediately in the Gulf, as the four countries threatened a total land and sea blockade of Qatar.
Three major airlines – Etihad, Emirates, and budget carrier FlyDubai – have already announced they are indefinitely suspending flights to and from Doha, starting on Tuesday.
Saudi accused Qatar of backing militant groups and broadcasting their ideology, apparently referring to the country’s influential state-owned channel Al Jazeera.
‘[Qatar] embraces multiple terrorist and sectarian groups aimed at disturbing stability in the region, including the Muslim Brotherhood, Isis and al Qaeda, and promotes the message and schemes of these groups through their media constantly,’ the Saudi state news agency SPA said.
In response, Qatar has said it’s facing a campaign of lies and fabrications aimed at putting them under guardianship.
‘The campaign of incitement is based on lies that had reached the level of complete fabrications,’ the Qatari foreign ministry said.
It added that, as a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council, it was committed to its charter, respected the sovereignty of other states, and did not interfere in their affairs.
Tensions in the region were growing steadily – but rapidly – in the run up to this announcement.
Since US President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, and then subsequently to the Kingdom’s regional enemy Israel, there has been increasing unrest.
Then, on May 27, Qatar’s ruling emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani called Iranian president Hasan Rouhani to congratulate him on his re-election.
The call was a clear, public rebuttal of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to force Qatar to fall in line against the Shiite-ruled nation, which the Sunni Kingdom of Saudi Arabia sees as its main enemy and a threat to regional stability.
There is also speculation that the Qatari royals were displeased by Saudi’s apparent de-facto coalition with the US and regional enemy Israel, which was turbocharged by Trump’s visit last month.
Immediately after visiting Riyadh, Trump flew directly to Tel Aviv. Flights are usually not permitted between the two countries, and each nation’s airlines will routinely avoid the other’s airspace.
Qatar, a gas-rich nation, is hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup and is home to a major US military base, the al-Udeid Air Base – which houses some 10,000 American troops.
Source : Metro