Latest rift in Arab world
Saudi Arabia and five other nations Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, Yemen and Libya broke diplomatic relations and all land, sea and...
Saudi Arabia and five other nations Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, Yemen and Libya broke diplomatic relations and all land, sea and air contacts with fellow Gulf Arab state Qatar on Monday, saying the move was necessary as Qatar was supporting terrorism and extremism.
The move bans citizens from Saudi, Egypt, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Libya and Yemen from travelling to Qatar, living there or passing through it. Recently, Qatar's state-run QNA news agency featured negative remarks about Saudi Arabia.
The unprecedented move is a pointer to a major split between powerful Gulf countries, who are also close US allies. The falling out is especially awkward for the Gulf Arab states after their leaders met Trump last weekend at a Riyadh summit of Muslim nations meant to showcase solidarity against Sunni armed militant groups and Shi'ite regional adversary Iran.
The Saudi alleges Qatar is collaborating with Iranian-backed terrorist groups in its restive Eastern region of Qatif and in Bahrain. Qatar, a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council, says it respects the sovereignty of other states and did not interfere in their affairs. Qatar is part of the US coalition against IS.
It has repeatedly denied accusations from Iraq's Shia leaders that it provided financial support to IS. Qatar is also accused of having links to a group formerly known as the Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate. Qatar is also accused of engaging hackers to post remarks by its emir against US foreign policy.
US and its allies are putting pressure on Qatar to end support to Islamists and Palestinian Hamas group that rules the Gaza Strip. Qatar and it Gulf allies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have used their oil and gas revenues to influence events in other Arab countries, and rifts between them can alter the political balance in Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
Ties between Qatar and other Gulf Arab states suffered an eight-month breach in 2014 over Qatar's alleged support for the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist. Qater did not cut ties with Iran in the past when Saudi and other allies severed all ties with it. Now, US may find it tricky to side with any side as Qatar has allowed US military base to act against ISIS.