Saudis cut ties with Qatar

Xavier Trudeau
Juin 6, 2017

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain asked Qatari visitors and nationals to leave within 14 days. Yemen's internationally backed government, which no longer holds its capital and large portions of the war-torn country, also cut relations with Qatar, as did the Maldives and one of conflict-ridden Libya's competing governments.

The restrictions on Qatar are more severe than during a previous eight-month rift in 2014, when Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE withdrew their ambassadors from Doha, again alleging Qatari support for militant groups.

The state news agency in Saudi Arabia made an announcement that the pull out of diplomats and a formal cut-off of ties with Qatar is being done with a view to preserving the nation's security from extremism and terrorism.

"Amid the crisis, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged the Gulf Cooperation Council and Qatar to resolve their differences and stay united".

Reza Nourani, chairman of Iran's Union of Exporters of Agricultural Products, was quoted by the semi-official Fars news agency as saying that Tehran could export food to Qatar by sea, which could reach the country in 12 hours.

Qatar, which will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament, said there was "no legitimate justification" for the decision of the four nations.

Qatar specifically is home to one of the largest US military bases in the Middle East, Al Udeid Air Base, with over 11,000 USA and coalition service members deployed there and more than 100 aircraft.

Saudi Arabia will step things up further by also shutting down its land border with Qatar.

Egypt and Bahrain have also blocked access to Al Jazeera, along with other Qatari media outlets.

The US military on Monday lauded Qatar for its "enduring commitment to regional security" and said US flights out of Al-Udeid airbase in Qatar were unaffected by the Gulf diplomatic crisis.

"Qatar Airways has suspended all flights to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia" until 1159 GMT the same day, a statement from the Doha-based carrier said.

Before Monday, Qatar had appeared unperturbed by the growing tensions.

SPA said Saudi Arabia has taken this "crucial action as a result of serious violations by the authorities in Doha, privately and publicly, over the past years to encourage dissent and sectarianism in the Kingdom".

"If there was a ban on travel among Middle East countries to Qatar, Arab tourists would be among them". Qatar denies it interferes in the affairs of other countries.

The grocery rush follows an escalating rift between Qatar and its neighboring Gulf states.

The crisis began on May 23 when Qatar's official News Agency (QNA) website was reportedly hacked by an unknown group that allegedly posted false remarks - attributed to Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani - about USA foreign policy and Iran. The hack, according to Qatar, included fake remarks by emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani calling Iran "a regional and Islamic power that can not be ignored".

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