Sunday, 22 July, 2018

4 nations cut diplomatic ties to Qatar as Gulf rift deepens

Orlando Vargas | 06 June, 2017, 07:02

A group of Gulf countries led by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the UAE severed diplomatic ties with US ally Qatar on Monday, accusing the oil-rich country of sponsoring violent extremism and causing regional instability.

Bahrain's statement also accused Qatar of financing armed groups linked to Iran to "carry out sabotage and mayhem in Bahrain", and called it a "flagrant violation" of values, morality, principles of good neighborliness, morality, and global law.

Meanwhile, India will not be impacted by some Gulf countries cutting off diplomatic ties with Qatar, Foreign Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said.

Qatar, home to about 10,000 US troops and the host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, criticized the move as a "violation of its sovereignty".

Both the UAE and Egypt made the announcement on their state-run news agencies within minutes of each other.

The move comes after Al-Jazeera has promoted terrorist propaganda and plots, supported Houthi militias in Yemen, and tried to compromise Saudi security by inciting public unrest which is aimed at harming the kingdom's sovereignty, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported Monday.

Besides Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain, Egypt, the Maldives, the internationally recognised Yemeni government and Libya's eastern-based government have also severed ties with Qatar.

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In Sydney, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told a news conference that he does not expect a growing rift between Qatar and its Gulf neighbours to degrade unity in the fight against militancy. "The Arab Republic of Egypt chose to cut diplomatic ties with Qatar in light of the Gulf Arab state's persistence to take a path against Egypt, and the failure of any attempts to prevent it from supporting terrorist organisation, topped by the Muslim Brotherhood", said the statement.

There were several worldwide reactions towards the decision of number of the Arabic and Islamic countries to sever relations with Qatar, taken on Monday, as per charges for Doha for supporting terrorists groups. Saudi Arabia also said it would seal its land border with Qatar. Egypt gave the Qatari ambassador 48 hours to leave Cairo, while the Persian Gulf states gave Qatari citizens 14 days to leave their countries. According to the Qatar Stock Exchange website, the stock market indicator fell sharply from 9,923 to 9,400, followed by a continued decline to around 9,100 points.

Qatar Airways, one of the region's major long-haul carriers, has suspended all flights to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain until further notice. Customers affected by the decision are being offered a refund.

There are about 6.5 lakh Indians in Qatar, of which almost three lakh people hail from Kerala, Vijayan said, expressing concern on their safety and employment in Qatar.

The ministry added that the decision taken by the four Gulf nations would not affect the normal lives of its citizens and residents. "Seaports will continue to be open for trade and airspace will continue to be open for trade, transport and air travel, with the exception of the countries that have closed their borders and airspace". He also announced $110 billion-worth of weapons sales to Saudi Arabia-though none of it corresponds to actual contracts, and all of it had been announced before, according to Bruce Riedel, a security expert at the Brookings Institution. It's maintained its diplomatic clout in part by being the home of US Central Command (Centcom) and the US's largest air base in the region, serving as a useful backchannel for contacts with extremists, and hosting branches of prestigious Western universities.

This development calls into question whether that would affect USA military operations in the theater.

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