Saudi-Qatar dispute: Emirates' flights connecting Doha suspended

Isaac Cain
June 6, 2017

Riyadh accused Qatar of backing terrorism and extremism, while Bahrain charged Qatar with interfering in its internal affairs, according to a report published by The Guardian.

Officials in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have all announced the countries have severed diplomatic ties with Qatar due to terrorism and extremism. They are stopping flights in and out of Qatar, and will close the airspace to the country's airline, Qatar Airways.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the USA government doesn't believe the rift between Saudi Arabia and Qatar will have any significant effect on the fight against terrorism.

Soccer's governing body Federation Internationale de Football Association said on Monday it was in "regular contact" with the organising committee of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, though it did not comment directly on the diplomatic situation involving the Gulf State.

It also followed weeks of rising tensions between Doha and its neighbours, including Qatari accusations of a concerted media campaign against it and the alleged hacking of the Qatar News Agency.

Bahrain gave Qatari diplomats 48 hours to leave the territory of the kingdom. Saudi also expelled Qatar troops from Saudi-led fighting in Yemen.

The tiny island nation of 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.

Saudi Arabia is closing its border with Qatar, leaving citizens of the peninsula nation scrambling for food and supplies.

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United Arab Emirates (UAE) major airlines, including Emirates, Etihad, FlyDubai and Air Arabia, had earlier announced the suspension of flights to and from Doha, Qatar, from Tuesday morning.

The Qatar Stock Exchange tumbled eight percent on opening and eventually closed down 7.58 percent.

The crisis comes after U.S. President Donald Trump's recent visit to Saudi Arabia for a summit with Arab leaders.

"It seems that the Saudis and Emiratis feel emboldened by the alignment of their regional interests - toward Iran and Islamism - with the Trump administration", Gulf analyst Kristian Ulrichsen told Reuters on Monday.

The Saudi news agency also said Libya and Yemen had cut ties with Qatar, but those claims have not been independently verified.

As a result of the move and the subsequent dramatic sell-off from investors, Qatar's main equity benchmark became the worst global performer this year.

In a statement released on Monday, Qassemi urged the four Arab states to resolve the tensions through "direct and transparent" talks instead of severing diplomatic ties.

In contrast to other Gulf states, "Qatar does not like being seen to be in the pocket of Saudi Arabia", and prefers to pursue more independent foreign policy, including in its relations with Iran.

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