A number of Arab nations cut ties with Qatar. The move escalates a dispute over Qatar’s support of the Muslim Brotherhood and accusations it backs the agenda of Iran.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Libya, Bahrain, and Maldives severed their ties with Qatar on Monday, accusing it of supporting terrorism and opening up the worst rift in years among some of the most powerful states in the Arab world.
Iran — long at odds with Saudi Arabia and a behind-the-scenes target of the move — immediately blamed President Donald Trump for setting the stage during his recent trip to Riyadh.
Gulf Arab states and Egypt have long resented Qatar’s support for Islamists, especially the Egyptian-based Muslim Brotherhood, which they regard as a dangerous political enemy.
The coordinated move, with the Maldives and Libya’s eastern-based government joining in later, created a dramatic rift among the Arab nations, many of which are in OPEC.
Announcing the closure of transport ties with Qatar, the three Gulf states gave Qatari visitors and residents two weeks to leave. Qatar was also expelled from the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen.
Oil giant Saudi Arabia accused Qatar of backing militant groups — some backed by regional archrival Iran — and broadcasting their ideology, an apparent reference to Qatar’s influential state-owned satellite channel al Jazeera.
“(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,” Saudi state news agency SPA said.
It accused Qatar of supporting what it described as Iranian-backed militants in its restive and largely Shi’ite Muslim-populated eastern region of Qatif and in Bahrain…
Iran saw America pulling the strings.
“What is happening is the preliminary result of the sword dance,” Hamid Aboutalebi, deputy chief of staff of Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, tweeted in a reference to Trump’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia. CNBC
Jordan also downgrades ties with Qatar
Jordan will downgrade its diplomatic representation with Qatar, it said on Tuesday, standing with several Arab powers that have cut ties with the tiny Gulf state.
The decision was made after Amman examined the “cause of the crisis” between Doha and the other Arab states, government spokesman Mohammed al Momani said.
He added that Jordan also revoked the TV license for Al Jazeera, Qatar’s influential state-owned satellite channel. Haaretz
Struggle For Regional Dominance
The decision by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt to punish the Gulf Cooperation Council member over its support for Islamist groups — as well as their key rival, Iran — pits some of the world’s richest nations in a struggle for regional dominance. Qatar’s population is smaller than Houston’s, but it has a sovereign wealth fund with stakes in global companies from Barclays Plc to Credit Suisse Group. It’s also a home to the forward headquarters of the U.S. military’s central command in the region. Bloomsberg
FLASHBACK: Obama Sent Taliban Terrorists To Qatar
In May of 2014, then President Barack Obama released five Islamic terrorists from the Guantanamo Bay detention facility into Qatar’s custody in exchange for the Taliban’s return of Bowe Bergdahl; the Taliban partly operates its international diplomatic operations via representatives in Qatar…