Qataris Flock to Supermarkets after Rift with Arab States

Xavier Trudeau
Juin 6, 2017

Arab nations including Saudi Arabia and Egypt on Monday cut ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting extremism, in the biggest diplomatic crisis to hit the region in years. Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have banned travel to and from Qatar, given Qatari diplomats 48 hours to leave and other Qatari citizens two weeks.

The countries said they would withdraw their diplomatic staff from gas-rich Qatar and cut air and sea traffic to the country.

A Reuters report said Saudi Arabia also banned Qatar Airways from using its air space resulting in the suspension of all QA flights to the kingdom.

Qatari football faces no immediate threat from the country's diplomatic crisis but huge questions will loom for the Gulf state's 2022 World Cup plans if relations do not improve with its neighbours.

Riyadh also accused Doha of supporting Iran-backed "terrorist activities" in its east, as well as in Bahrain.

Last month, reports quoted Qatari leader Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani as questioning US hostility toward Iran and claiming "tensions" between Qatar and the United States.

In cutting relations, Saudi Arabia accused Qatar of backing militant groups and broadcasting their ideology, an apparent reference to Qatar's influential state-owned satellite channel al Jazeera.

Maj. Adrian J.T. Rankine-Galloway told The Associated Press in a statement Monday that US military aircraft continue to fly missions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria despite the rift. According to the BBC, Saudi Arabia and the UAE's intervention in Yemen in 2015 has forged a newfound desire for these two countries to lead on matters of regional security. Western officials also have accused Qatar of allowing or even encouraging funding of Sunni extremists like al-Qaida's branch in Syria, once known as the Nusra Front. Meanwhile, Trump's vociferous calls against Islamist terrorism emboldens countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt in their Qatar blockade, Rickli said.

He said the state was aware that the Centre would come out with the "most appropriate diplomatic and geo- political stance" in this regard taking into consideration all aspects and put in place a "robust mechanism" for addressing all the concerns.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said that, he is sorry for the dispute between Qatar and other Arab countries and called for discussion to resolve the dispute. Qatar and Saudi Arabia embarked on a war of words about each country's relationship to terrorism, while Bahrain and Egypt launched tough crackdowns on dissidents in their countries. "In 2014, it was a diplomatic crisis".

In the time since, Qatar repeatedly and strongly denied it funds extremist groups. However, it remains a key patron of the Islamic Hamas movement, which rules the Gaza Strip.

Iran, long at odds with Saudi Arabia and a behind-thescenes target of the move, blamed US President Donald Trump's visit last month to Riyadh.

Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE took similar decisions by closing all land, sea, and air contacts with the fellow Gulf country. According to the Qatar Stock Exchange website, the stock market indicator fell sharply from 9,923 to 9,400, followed by a continued decline to around 9,100 points.

Kuwait, which earlier had tried to mediate the crisis, had no immediate comment.

"We are friends, we've been friends now for a long time, haven't we?" Trump asked at the meeting.

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