Fissures
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Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates have cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar, causing fissures in the powerful Gulf consortium ostensibly for its alleged support to terrorism. Egypt has also accused Qatar of espousing anti-Egyptian forces and have ended diplomatic relations with Doha.

Today, the Saudi state news agency SPA alleged that Qatar “embraces multiple terrorists 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-led coalition rusticated Qatar from military operations in Yemen. The coalition’s statement accused Doha of supporting the Al-Qaeda and Islamic State terrorist groups.

Saudi Arabia also closed the border and halted air and sea traffic with Qatar, urging “all brotherly countries and companies to do the same”.

Read more: Anti-Qatar media campaign in the Gulf: Cracks in the Islamic Military Alliance

UAE broke diplomatic ties citing Qatar’s “ongoing policies that rattle the security and sovereignty of the region as well as its manipulation and evasion of its commitments and treaties.”

The Saudi Press Agency said the Saudi government would also reach out to its allies “and start the immediate legal procedures for understanding with fraternal and friendly countries and international companies to implement the same procedure as soon as possible for all means of transport to and from the State of Qatar, for reasons related to Saudi national security.”

Bahrain also accused Doha of meddling in its internal affairs. The Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Monday to the effect.

“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.” The statement said.

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, the statement further added.

UAE broke diplomatic ties citing Qatar’s “ongoing policies that rattle the security and sovereignty of the region as well as its manipulation and evasion of its commitments and treaties.” It has banned Qatari nationals from entering the Emirates and has given two weeks for those already present to leave.

Egypt also broke off ties with the tiny Gulf state. It has closed all its seaports and airspace to Qatari vessels and planes, the country’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

This comes on the heels of a boycott of Qatari media outlets by the very four countries last month when a pro-Iran statement was attributed to the Emir of Qatar appeared on Qatar’s official news agency.

“The Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt has decided to sever diplomatic relations with Qatar because of the continued hostility of the Qatari authorities towards Egypt,” the statement read, also accusing Doha of supporting terrorist organizations, including the Muslim Brotherhood.

Read more: What is Qatar’s Strategic Relevance in the Contemporary Middle East?

At a time when the fight against the menace of terrorism in the region has been bequeathed to the Saudi-led military alliance with a conspicuous bent against Iran, this decision is very important.

Qatar regretted and called the step as unjustified. “The measures are unjustified and are based on claims and allegations that have no basis in fact,” the statement said, adding that the decisions would “not affect the normal lives of citizens and residents,” said the foreign ministry.

The gathering storm

This comes on the heels of a boycott of Qatari media outlets by the very four countries last month when a pro-Iran statement was attributed to the Emir of Qatar appeared on Qatar’s official news agency.

Analysts opine that Riyadh has been emboldened by the open support lent by President Trump against Tehran.

In an article which appeared on Qatar’s state-run news agency on 25th May, quoted the Emir as being critical of the United States, Saudi Arabia, and their client states for attempting to stir up tensions with “Islamic power” Iran.

A post on the agency’s Twitter page quoted the Qatari foreign minister as saying that his country was withdrawing its ambassadors from Kuwait, Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE amid tensions. The Qatari foreign minister claimed that the new agency was hacked. However, media outlets including Al Jazeera were blocked.

According to Al Jazeera, Qatar’s government categorically denied that the comments, in which the country’s leader expressed support for Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah and Israel – while suggesting that US President Donald Trump may not last in power, were ever made.

Act against Iran or face isolation

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis commented on the issue from Sydney, Australia.

Read more: US’ plan to destabilize Iran: “Dark Prince” appointed as head of the CIA

“We certainly would encourage the parties to sit down together and address these differences. And if there is any role that we can play in terms of helping them address those, we think it is important that the GCC remain unified.”
– Rex Tillerson

James Mattis said that Iran lies at the heart of the problem. “”Iran’s actions speak louder than anyone’s words,” he said.

US President Donald Trump met with the Qatari Emir during his recent visit to Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, describing the royal delegation as “friends” and marking that “our relationship is extremely good.”

Analysts opine that Riyadh has been emboldened by the open support lent by President Trump against Tehran. The ambiguity surrounding the newly-formed military alliance’s real target was removed when America’s strongman called upon everyone to confront Iran besides signing the US $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

“But no discussion of stamping out this threat would be complete without mentioning the government that gives terrorists all three — safe harbor, financial backing, and the social standing needed for recruitment. It is a regime that is responsible for so much instability in the region. I am speaking, of course, of Iran,” he said.

Earlier this year, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani said that his country enjoyed deep and historical ties with Iran.

“From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms, and trains terrorists, militias, and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region. For decades, Iran has fueled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror,” he added.

“Until the Iranian regime is willing to be a partner for peace, all nations of conscience must work together to isolate Iran, deny it funding for terrorism, and pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they deserve,” he stressed.

Read more: Islamic Military Alliance: Seeking Non-Muslim help against a Muslim sect

This statement is important and gives the kingdom much-needed cushion to clip any country that it deems is supporting Tehran. Earlier this year, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani said that his country enjoyed deep and historical ties with Iran.
In a phone conversation with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani Al-Thani said he wanted the ties with Iran to be “stronger than ever before.”

This fear has been a cause of concern for all GCC countries, who have now been joined by Yemen in boycotting Qatar, a country it considers as pro-Iran.

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