The Gulf States have cut diplomatic ties with neighbouring Qatar over “terrorism and extremism” in an unprecedented regional crisis.
The four Arab nations have accused Qatar of supporting ISIS and Al Qaeda in Yemen and have also kicked out the gas-rich Qatar out of a military coalition.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar form a regional alliance known as the Gulf Cooperation Council. The union is viewed as one of the most influential in the Middle East. Kuwait and Oman remain the only GCC members to maintain ties with Qatar.
The Saudi government said in a statement that the “decisive” measure was due to the “gross violations committed by authorities in Qatar over the past years”.
“Qatar harboured a number of terrorist and sectarian groups that aim to destabilise the region including the Muslim Brotherhood, Daesh (IS) and Al-Qaeda”. The statement said in part.
Bahrain’s foreign ministry issued a statement Monday saying it was suspending diplomatic relations with Qatar “in order to preserve its national security.”
“Based on the insistence of the State of Qatar to continue to destabilize the security and stability of the Kingdom of Bahrain, to interfere in its affairs, to continue the escalation and incitement of the media, and supporting armed terrorist activities, and financing groups associated with Iran to subvert and spread chaos in Bahrain in flagrant violation of all agreements and the principles of international law without regard to values, law, morals, consideration of the principles of good neighborliness, or commitment to the constants of Gulf relations, and the denial of all previous commitments.”
Qatari diplomats had 48 hours to leave the kingdom, and airspace and ports between the countries would be closed within 24 hours of Bahrain’s announcement, it said.
Egypt’s foreign ministry also accused Doha of supporting “terrorism” and announced the closure of its ports and airports to Qatari carriers.
Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways and Dubai-based budget carrier flydubai said on Monday they would suspend flights to Qatar following the United Arab Emirates decision to sever ties with Doha
Etihad said flights would stop on Tuesday, after the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain said they would cut all air, land and sea links with Qatar within 24 hours.
The Gulf States have already started asking their citizens to leave within 14 days and will also ban their citizens from travelling to Qatar.
Qatar has responded by saying that “the move by four countries to cut diplomatic ties is “unjustified and based on baseless allegations”