Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, three out of six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in addition to Egypt, have broken off relations with Qatar, in the worst diplomatic crisis to hit Gulf Arab states in decades.
The three Gulf countries and Egypt have accused Qatar of supporting terrorism and destabilizing the region. Qatar — which shares its only land border with Saudi Arabia — has rejected the accusations calling them “unjustified” and “baseless”. Yemen and the Maldives also cut ties with Qatar.
Qatari citizens have been told they have 14 days to leave Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE, while those countries also banned their own citizens from entering Qatar.
Saudi Arabia’s state news agency announced the cutting of ties Monday, saying it was seeking to “protect national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism.”
All ports of entry between the two countries will be closed, according to the statement.
The move escalated a row following a recent hack of the Qatari state-news agency, and sent stocks in gas-rich Qatar plunging and the price of oil rising.
Qatar hosts the largest US military base in the Middle East and is set to host the 2022 football World Cup.
On Monday, Iran’s foreign ministry called all sides in the Gulf diplomatic rift to respect the sovereignty of each state, adding that a policy of sanctions is “ineffective and unacceptable”.
“To resolve regional disputes and the current dispute, they should adopt peaceful methods, transparent dialogue and diplomacy,” Bahram Qasemi, foreign ministry spokesman, said. “No country in the region will benefit from the heightened tension.
“To resolve regional disputes and the current dispute, they should adopt peaceful methods, transparent dialogue and diplomacy.”
Earlier, Hamid Aboutalebi, deputy chief of staff of Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, had said the moves against Qatar would not help to end the crisis in the Middle East.
“What is happening is the preliminary result of the sword dance,” he added, in an apparent reference to Trump’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia where the US leader and officials were filmed performing a traditional dance with their hosts.