UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt cut relations with Qatar

  • Qatar accused of supporting 'terrorism' and financing 'groups' linked
  • to Iran, backing terrorism and interfering in Bahrain's internal affairs;
  • Qatari nationals in UAE given 14 days to leave, further entry banned
  • Jeddah bans Qatari airplanes from landing at its airports; Qatar slams
  • "unjustified" Saudi decision; Turkey calls for dialogue over Qatar rift;
  • Pakistan has no immediate plans to cut ties with Qatar: Foreign Office


CAIRO: The United Arab Emirates (UAE), along with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt, cut diplomatic ties with Qatar on Monday.
According to earlier reports, Saudi Arabia accused Qatar of supporting "terrorism" and financing "groups" linked to Iran.
Announcing the decision on Monday to cut diplomatic relations with Qatar, Saudi Arabia also accused its fellow Gulf Arab state of interfering in its internal affairs.
Saudi Arabia was also cutting land, air and sea contact with Qatar, according to media reports.
Saudi Arabia's state news agency quoted an official source as saying that the move was to protect national security "from the dangers of terrorism and extremism."
Meanwhile in a statement carried by its official news agency, Bahrain accused Qatar of backing terrorism and interfering in Bahrain's internal affairs.
The UAE said in a statement it will "sever relations with Qatar, including diplomatic relations, and the country's diplomatic mission has a grace period of 48 hours to leave the country," UAE state news agency WAM reported.
Qatari nationals in the UAE would have 14 days to leave while Qatari nationals would be prevented from entering the UAE.
The UAE has taken these steps "as a result of the failure of the Qatari authorities" to stop funding "terrorist organizations ... especially the Muslim Brotherhood," it said.
The Brotherhood, which has been outlawed in Egypt, is labeled a terrorist organization in the UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. The UAE also accused Qatar of "harboring extremists."
The UAE and Qatar are both members of the six-country Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), to which Saudi Arabia and Bahrain also belong. Founded in 1981, the GCC is a leading political and economic block in the Arab world.
Egypt also announced its decision to cut diplomatic ties with Qatar earlier on Monday.
Egypt severed diplomatic ties with Qatar on accusations of supporting terrorist organizations, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
"The Arab Republic of Egypt decided to cut diplomatic ties with Qatar in light of the Gulf Arab state's persistence to take a path against Egypt, and the failure of any attempts to prevent it from supporting terrorist organization, topped by the Muslim Brotherhood," said the statement.
The statement added Qatar is sheltering the leaders of the Brotherhood who have targeted the security and safety of Egypt by conducting terrorist operations.
The statement attributed cutting ties with Qatar to the state's promotion of extremist thoughts of al-Qaeda and Islamic State, its support for terrorist operations in Sinai, as well as its intervention in Egypt's internal affairs in a way that threatens its national security.
Ties between Egypt and Qatar have been deteriorating since the ouster of the Egyptian Islamist-affiliated leader Mohamed Morsi in 2013 as a result of a mass protest against his rule. 
Saudi Civil Aviation announced on Monday an immediate ban of the landing of Qatari airplanes in Saudi airports, Sabq online news reported.
The ban also covered commercial and private airlines that are registered in Saudi Arabia from directly or indirectly travelling to Qatar.
The move is part of the decision taken by Saudi Arabia and other countries on Monday to cut diplomatic ties with Qatar citing the reasons over the objection of Qatar's foreign policy that interferes in the internal affairs of other countries and supports terrorist and armed groups.
The decision includes closing all of Saudi's borders with the Qatar, including the land border and the airspace.
Qatar on Monday condemned as justified the decision by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to break diplomatic ties with this oil rich Gulf state.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen and the Maldives say they have severed diplomatic relations with Qatar.
The state-run Saudi Press Agency early on Monday said the action was taken for protection of national security, accusing Qatar of "harbouring a multitude of terrorist and sectarian groups that aim to create instability in the region".
Qatar foreign ministry in an angry reaction condemned the decision and described it as a move to "undermine" the state of Qatar.
"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar expressed its deep regret and surprise at the decisions by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Bahrain to close their borders and airspace, and sever diplomatic relations with the State of Qatar, bearing in mind that these measures are unjustified and based on false claims and assumptions," the Qatar Foreign Ministry said.
It said The State of Qatar has been subjected to a campaign of lies that have reached the point of complete fabrication. It reveals a hidden plan to undermine the State of Qatar.
"Qatar is an active member of the Gulf Cooperation Council and is fully committed to its charter. Qatar respects the sovereignty of other nations and does not interfere in their internal affairs, and it has fulfilled its role in fighting terrorism and extremism," the statement said.
The statement said it is clear that the media campaign of fabrications has failed to sway public opinion in the region, and among Gulf countries in particular, and this explains the continued escalation against Qatar.
"That reasons were fabricated in order to take action against a brotherly GCC nation is clear evidence that there is no legitimate justification for such measures, which have been implemented in coordination with Egypt," said the statement, according to Al-Jazeera.
"Their purpose is clearly the imposition of guardianship over Qatar, which is in itself a violation of its sovereignty, and is rejected outright."
The Qatari statement pointed out that the allegations contained in the statements by the three GCC nations announcing the severing of relations clearly confirms the existence of a planned and clandestine media campaign, which has included fabrications and fake news.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stressed that these measures will not affect the normal course of life of citizens and residents of Qatar. The Qatari government will take all necessary measures to ensure this and thwart attempts to influence and harm Qatari society and economy.
Finally, Qatar's Foreign Ministry expressed its regret that the three countries have determined, at this critical time for the region, that there are no greater threats to their people that require their attention, and have instead decided to target and cause harm to the State of Qatar." 
Turkey Monday called for dialogue to resolve the dispute between Qatar and other Arab states.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu while addressing a news conference in Ankara his country feels saddened by this development.
He said, "Dialogue must continue for problems to be resolved peacefully." 
Earlier, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain severed their ties with Qatar today, accusing it of supporting terrorism and extremist groups in the region.
These countries said they would withdraw their diplomatic staff from Qatar and expel Doha's diplomats from their territories.
Saudi Arabia has also announced to shut its land border with Qatar, effectively cutting off the country from the rest of the Arabian Peninsula.
Meanwhile, Foreign Office Spokesperson Nafees Zakaria on Monday said that Pakistan has no immediate plans to cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar.
"The country has no such plans. At the moment there is nothing on Qatar issue. We will issue a statement if some development takes place," Zakaria said after the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain cut off their relations with fellow Gulf state Qatar.
In response, Qatar's Foreign Ministry said it regrets the 'unjustified' decision made by the Arab countries. "The measures are unjustified and are based on false and baseless claims," the Qatari foreign ministry said, adding, "The aim is clear, and it is to impose guardianship on the state. This by itself is a violation of Qatar's sovereignty as a state."
"The Qatari government will take all measures necessary to foil attempts to affect or harm Qatar's society and economy," the statement said.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain announced Monday the cutting of diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism. They made the separate moves in short succession, saying they would withdraw their diplomatic staff from Qatar and cut air and sea traffic to the country.
Saudi Arabia, which leads a coalition of nations fighting in support of Yemen's government, also said Qatar's forces would be withdrawn from that fight.
The state-owned Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said, "Qatar embraces multiple terrorist and sectarian groups aimed at disturbing stability in the region, including the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS and al-Qaida, and promotes the message and schemes of these groups through their media constantly."
The SPA 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."
In its statement announcing its severing of ties with Qatar, the UAE cited 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." Qatari nationals are to be banned from entering the UAE, and Qatari residents of the country have been given two-week notice to leave the leave the country. 
Bahrain's Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying it was suspending diplomatic relations "in order to preserve its national security." Qatari diplomats were given 48 hours to leave the kingdom and airspace and ports between the countries would be closed within 24 hours of Bahrain's announcement.
Bahrain said, "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."
In a statement, Egypt said, "Qatar had taken an anti-Egyptian course and that Cairo had been unable to dissuade it from supporting terrorism."
Meanwhile, in light of these events, Abu Dhabi's state-owned airline firm Etihad Airways has announced suspension of its flights to and fro Doha from Tuesday morning, until further notice. As per details, the last flight from the country to Doha will depart at 2.45 am (local time) on Tuesday. Long-haul carrier Emirates has suspended all flights to Qatar, as well, until further notice. Qatar Airways has said that all its flights to Saudi Arabia will be suspended.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar form a regional alliance known as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). 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.
Late last month, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt blocked several Qatari media outlets, including state-funded Al Jazeera, over comments allegedly made by Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Al Hamad Al Thani. Al Thani reportedly hailed Iran as an 'Islamic power' and criticized US President Donald Trump's policy towards Tehran.
The Emir's comments appeared on Qatar's official news agency, but Qatar claimed that the website was 'hacked,' the report fabricated by the culprits.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he does not expect Monday's actions to have an impact on the fight against terrorism in the region or globally. He urged all of the parties to sit down and address their disagreements and offered US assistance to do so. He said, "The U.S. thinks it is important for the members of the GCC to remain unified."
"I think what we're witnessing is a growing list of some irritants in the region that have been there for some time, and obviously they have now bubbled up to a level that countries decided they needed to take action in an effort to have those differences addressed," he said.
US Defense Secretary James Mattis blamed Iran for discord in the area saying, "Iran's actions speak louder than anyone's words." 
U.S. Ambassador to Qatar Dana Shell Smith also shared messages on Twitter that she and her embassy's account originally wrote in October 2016 expressing U.S. support for Qatari efforts to combat terrorist financing. The U.S. military's Central Command maintains a large presence at the al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar. NNI