From the Field
GCC countries move to isolate Qatar
RIYADH, June 5, 2017 – Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain on Monday morning announced the severing of diplomatic ties with Qatar on accusation of the latter’s alleged support for extremism.
According to a Saudi statement, the decision was driven by the need to “protect national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism.” Egypt has joined the GCC trio in breaking of relations with Qatar. Libya and Yemen followed suit later on Monday.
The UAE pointed to Qatar’s “ongoing policies that rattle the security and sovereignty of the region as well as its manipulation and evasion of its commitments and treaties.”
The country has moved to bar all Qatari’s from entering the UAE. Those already there have been given a two-week notice. Diplomats have 48 hours to leave the country. Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways has said it would suspend all flights to and from Doha.
Bahrain minced no words in its statement, accusing Qatar of interference in domestic affairs, support of extremism and of flaunting international law. Egypt, on its part, said Qatar had embarked on an “anti-Egyptian course.”
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was quick to respond. Speaking from Australia, he said, “We certainly would encourage the parties to sit down together and address these differences. And if there is any role that we can play in terms of helping them address those, we think it is important that the GCC remain unified.”
The bone of contention appears to be Qatari media reports of a few weeks ago citing comments reportedly made by Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Al Hamad Al Thani on Iran as an “Islamic power.” Doha claims the news was fabricated and spread in an act of cybercrime.
The countries also don’t see eye to eye on the conflict in Yemen and the role of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Qatar has yet to comment on the events.