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Saudi Arabia,Egypt,UAE,Bahrain severed their ties with Qatar

05 June, 2017

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Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain severed their ties with Qatar on Monday, accusing it of supporting terrorism, in an unprecedented breach between the most powerful members of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

The Foreign Ministry today announced that Pakistan has no plans to cut diplomatic ties with Qatar.

The coordinated move dramatically escalates a dispute over Qatar's support of the Muslim Brotherhood, the world's oldest Islamist movement, and adds accusations that Doha even backs the agenda of regional arch-rival Iran.

The three Gulf states announced the closure of transport ties with Qatar and gave Qatari visitors and residents two weeks to leave their countries.

Qatar was also expelled from a Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen.

These are more severe measures than during a previous eight-month rift in 2014, when Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE withdrew their ambassadors from Doha. At that time, travel links were maintained and Qataris were not expelled.

A split between Doha and its closest allies can have repercussions around the Middle East where Gulf states have used their financial and political power to influence events in Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Qatar is also due to host the World Cup in 2022.

In an apparent reference to Qatar's influential state-owned satellite channel Al Jazeera, Saudi state news agency, SPA, accused Doha of backing militant groups and spreading their violent ideology.

"(Qatar) embraces multiple terrorist and sectarian groups aimed at disturbing stability in the region, including the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS (Islamic State) and Al Qaeda, and promotes the message and schemes of these groups through their media constantly," SPA said.

The statement went on to accuse Qatar of supporting what it described as Iranian-backed militants in its restive and largely Shia-populated eastern region of Qatif and in Bahrain.

There was no immediate Qatari reaction to the announcements, and Qatari officials could not be reached for comment, but it has denied supporting terrorism or Iran in the past.

Egypt, the Arab world's most populous nation, said on its state news agency that Qatar's policy "threatens Arab national security and sows the seeds of strife and division within Arab societies according to a deliberate plan aimed at the unity and interests of the Arab nation."

Bahrain's Foreign Affairs Ministry issued a statement saying it would withdraw its diplomatic mission from the Qatari capital of Doha within 48 hours.

The statement further said that all Qatari diplomats should leave Bahrain within the same period.

Bahrain blamed Qatar's “media incitement, support for armed terrorist activities and funding linked to Iranian groups to carry out sabotage and spreading chaos in Bahrain” for its decision.

All the nations also announced plans to cut air and sea traffic to the peninsular country. It wasn't immediately clear how that would affect Qatar Airways, one of the region's major long-haul carriers.
US downplays rift

United States (US) Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says he does not expect a growing rift between Qatar and its Gulf neighbours to degrade unity in the fight against militancy.

Tillderson told a news conference in Sydney that the rift will have no implications for the effort against the militant Islamic State group. Qatar hosts a key US air base.

The Abu Dhabi-based airline Etihad says it is suspending flights to Qatar amid the growing diplomatic rift. Etihad said on its website Monday its last flights “until further notice” would leave early Tuesday morning. However the UAE flag carrier gave no reason for the decision.

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