Seven Nations Break Diplomatic Ties With Qatar

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The Middle East was plunged into the biggest diplomatic crisis in years after seven countries cut relations with Qatar, accusing it of supporting extremism.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Libya and the Maldives have all severed diplomatic ties with Qatar, which has been accused of supporting Islamic groups, including some backed by Iran, “that aim to destabilise the region”.

Gulf states have long accused Qatar of supporting extremist groups, in particular the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic State and al-Qaeda.

The crisis was likely to have wideranging consequences for Qatar and its citizens as well as the Middle East and Western interests.

India has said it is closely following the situation in the Gulf region.

Saudi Arabia and other countries have criticized Al Jazeera and Qatar’s relations with Iran, and accused Qatar of funding terrorist organizations.

Qatar has had differences with other Arab governments on a number of issues: it broadcasts Al Jazeera; it is accused of maintaining good relations with Iran; and it has supported the Muslim Brotherhood in the past.

Qatar is actually the only other Sunni Islam dominated country, other than Saudi Arabia, to be adherents of the ultra conservative Wahhabi religious movement.

Qatar is an American ally, hosting the largest American base in the Middle East, Al Udeid Air Base. The extreme action to cut ties may have been prompted by improved relations with the US since President Donald Trump took office.

All GCC countries involved in the announcement ordered their citizens out of Qatar. Three Gulf states (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain) gave Qatari visitors and residents two weeks to leave their countries.

The foreign ministries of Bahrain and Egypt gave Qatari diplomats 48 hours to leave their countries.

Interesting development has seen Iran offering to provide food to Qatar after Saudi Arabia closed its border.

Impact of this Crisis

Qatar is one of the wealthiest countries on earth, but it’s going to feel the pain all the same because it relies heavily on its neighbors for trade and travel in and out of the region. The peninsular nation imports most of its food through its land border with Saudi, which is now closed.

Nearly 80 percent of Qatar’s food requirements come from Gulf Arab neighbors, with only 1 percent being produced domestically and even imports from outside the Gulf states usually crossing the now closed land border with Saudi Arabia. Immediately after the cutting of relations, local reports indicated residents swarmed grocery stores in hopes of stockpiling food.

Large airlines based in these countries, including Emirates, suspended flight service to Qatar. Aircraft registered in Qatar cannot fly to the countries that cut diplomatic ties and vice versa.

The United Arab Emirates banned Qatar-flagged ships from calling at Fujairah. It also banned vessels from Qatar from the port and vessels at the port from sailing directly to Qatar.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, and the UAE all blocked access to Qatari news agencies, including one of the most popular Arab news outlets, Qatar-based Al Jazeera.

Standard & Poor’s downgraded Qatar’s debt by one notch from AA to AA- as the Qatari riyal fell to an 11-year low.

Qatar’s stocks market plunge 7.3% to their lowest level in more than a year and has plummeted 9.7 percent in the past 3 days.

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