Saudi Arabia,Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates announced on Monday they were cutting off diplomatic relations with Qatar, as they accused the Gulf state of supporting terrorism.
Saudi news agency SPA said Riyadh cut diplomatic ties and closed borders with its neighbor to “protect its national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism”.
A Saudi official cited by SPA said the country decided to “sever diplomatic and consular ties with Qatar, and to close all land, sea and aviation ports”.
Egypt’s foreign ministry also accused Doha of supporting ‘terrorism’ in a statement as it announced the cutting off ties. The statement said all Egyptian ports and airports would be closed to Qatari vessels.
Bahrain news agency said the tiny kingdom was cutting ties with Doha over its urgent demand on “shaking the security and stability of Bahrain and commingling in its affairs”.
The Saudi-led Arab coalition combating insurgents in Yemen’s two-year war meanwhile said it was ousting Qatar over what it said was the country’s support for organisations including Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group.
Doha has long faced accusations that it is a state sponsor of terror.
It has been flayed in some quarters for its support of insurgents groups fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and Qatari individuals have also been sanctioned by the US Treasury for terror-funding activities.
In recent weeks, Qatar has been accused openly of terror funding in articles which have appeared in the American media. It was also excoriated for providing a safe haven to former Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal, who earlier this month used his Doha base — where he has lived in exile for several years — to launch a new policy document. The Afghan Taliban opened an office in Doha in 2013.
Qatar, which will host the 2022 football World Cup, is a member of the US-led coalition to defeat the Islamic State group. USA operates its major functions from Qatar.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Monday called on Gulf states to be unified and work out their differences after several nations cut diplomatic ties with Qatar.
“We certainly would encourage the parties to sit down together and address these differences,” he said in Sydney. If these countries have any problems, we would sort out these issues.