Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE cut diplomatic ties to Qatar; plan to shut land border with Arab country
Dubai: Four Arab nations severed diplomatic ties in Qatar Monday in their dealings with Iran and support Islamist groups by isolating the small energy-rich country by reducing its land, sea and air communication channels with the outside world.
Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have begun withdrawing their diplomats from Qatar, while regional airlines have quickly announced that they will suspend service to their capital, Doha.
Qatar, which will host the 2022 World Cup and shelter 10,000 US soldiers at a US military base, has criticized the measure as a “violation of its sovereignty.” However, it immediately wreaked havoc on the Qatar Airways long-distance carrier that sent its stock market and raised questions about how a country dependent on food imports would be affected.
Image of the file of Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. Wikimedia Commons image from the archive of Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. Wikimedia Commons
Saudi Arabia also said Qatari troops would withdraw from the ongoing war in Yemen. The Japanese government with the support of Yemen, which holds on its capital and large pieces, also cut off relations with Qatar.
All countries have ordered their citizens to Qatar and gave Qatari abroad 14 days to return to their peninsular countries. Countries also said they would expel Qatari diplomats in their territories.
The Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that “there is no legitimate justification” for the country’s decision, although it promised that its citizens would not be affected by this decision.
“The Qatari government will take all necessary steps to ensure this and thwart attempts to influence and affect the society and economy of Qatar,” he said.
All nations have also said they plan to reduce air and sea traffic. Saudi Arabia said it would close its land border with Qatar, effectively cutting the country from the rest of the Arabian Peninsula.
Qatar Airways, one of the main long distance carriers in the region that regularly navigates through Saudi airspace, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Some of his flights on Monday crossed Iranian airspace.
Etihad, the Abu Dhabi-based company said it would suspend flights to Qatar “until further notice.” Emirates, the Dubai-based airline, announced that it would also suspend flights to Qatar from Tuesday, as low-cost airline FlyDubai.
Before Monday, Qatar seemed indifferent to the growing tensions. On May 27, the Qatari emirate, Hamad bin Tamim Al Thani, called the Iranian president, Hasan Rouhani to congratulate him on his re-election.
The call was a clear and public refutation of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to force Qatar to fall in line against the Shiite nation, which the Sunni kingdom regards as its number one enemy and a threat to regional stability. Qatar shares a huge offshore gas field with the Islamic Republic.
Qatar is also home to the large Al Udeid air base, which houses the headquarters before the US Army Central Command. It was unclear whether the decision would affect military operations. Officials of the Central Command and the Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Saudi Arabia said it made a decision to sever diplomatic ties because of Qatar’s adoption of several terrorist and sectarian groups to destabilize the region, including Muslim Brotherhoods, Al Qaeda, the state group and Islamist groups supported by Iran in defiance of Kingdom Eastern Province. The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has accused Qatar of taking a “confrontational stance” towards Egypt and said that “all attempts to stop supporting terrorist groups have failed.”
The small island nation of Bahrain has blamed the Qatar media, support for armed terrorism and related Iranian funding groups to carry out the sabotage and spread of chaos in Bahrain “by its decision. The United States, based in Bahrain, has not responded to a request for comment on whether the decision would affect its operations.