Published: Mon, June 05, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Five nations cut ties with Qatar, flights cancelled

Five nations cut ties with Qatar, flights cancelled

Premier UAE airlines Etihad and Emirates announced they would suspend flights to Qatar, as did budget carriers Air Arabia and FlyDubai.

Qatar's Foreign Affairs Ministry protested that there was "no legitimate justification" for the actions by its fellow Sunni Arab states, vowing that the citizens of the extremely wealthy oil and gas producing country won't be affected by the "violation of its sovereignty".

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.

A statement on Saudi Arabia's state news agency announced the move Monday morning with an aim to "protect national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism".

The official Saudi news agency said that the country had chose to sever ties with Qatar proceeding from the exercise of its sovereign right guaranteed by global law and the protection of national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism.

The three Gulf countries and Egypt have accused Qatar of supporting terrorism and destabilizing the region.

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Regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia on Monday ordered its nationals to leave Qatar within 14 days and barred Qataris from the kingdom.

According to reports, Saudi Arabia was also cutting land, air and sea contact with Qatar.

Despite this, Qatar is a formal ally of the U.S. and Turkey in the region.

Abu Dhabi-based airline Etihad said it was suspending flights to Qatar "until further notice".

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters in Sydney on Monday that the spat would not affect the fight against Islamist militants and that Washington has encouraged its Gulf allies to resolve their differences.

Qatar had assigned warplanes to the coalition conducting air strikes against Yemen's Huthi rebels.

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Qatar, like Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E., is also a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

At the official level, the Qatari government pledged support for Hamas, the Palestinian group designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the United States, Israel, Egypt and Canada.

A major concern for Qatar will be if Egypt issues a similar ban.

"Middle East Institute senior fellow Charles Lister pointed out this could affect Qatar in a major way since the country "'is very heavily reliant on food supplies accessed" through Saudi Arabia, so a closing of the borders poses a "very' serious challenge to Doha".

"One is that Saudi Arabia felt emboldened after Donald Trump's visit, and Trump's administration has had a strong stance on Iran, which is backed by Qatar".

The stories quoted him questioning USA hostility towards Iran, speaking of "tensions" between Doha and Washington, and speculating that Trump might not remain in power for long.

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Last week the Qatari emir travelled to Kuwait to meet Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah in what was widely seen as an attempt at mediation by the Kuwaitis.

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