Published: Wed, June 07, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Qatar Suspends all Flights to Saudi Arabia

Qatar Suspends all Flights to Saudi Arabia

As it cut ties on Monday, Saudi Arabia charged that Qatar was embracing "various terrorist and sectarian groups aimed at destabilising the region", including the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) and armed groups supported by Iran in the kingdom's restive east.

From landing at Saudi Arabian airports, the general authority of civil aviation issued a decree prohibiting all Qatari Airlines and Qatar Airways.

Minister of State for Media Affairs and Government Spokesperson Mohammad Momani said in a statement that after "studying the causes of the crisis witnessed in the ties between Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain and Qatar, the government has made a decision to reduce diplomatic representation with the State of Qatar and revoke the licence of Al Jazeera channel's office in the Kingdom".

Still, the Qatari foreign minister struck a defiant tone, saying his nation rejected those trying to impose their will or intervene in its internal affairs.

In a call with Sheikh Sabah on Monday, Qatari leader Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani had agreed to put off a speech to the nation in order to give mediation a chance. The Philippines has temporarily suspended the deployment of Filipino workers to Doha, but said there is no plan yet to repatriate the more than 200,000 existing members of the labour force. More than 1 million Filipinos reside and work in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain.

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Saudi Arabia and allies including Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain announced Monday they were severing diplomatic relations and closing air, sea and land links with Qatar.

U.S. President Donald Trump took sides in a deep rift in the Arab world on Tuesday, praising Middle East countries' actions against American ally Qatar over Islamist militants even though the tiny Gulf state hosts the largest U.S. air base in the region.

At the State Department, spokesperson Heather Nauert said the grateful to Qatar for its "longstanding" support of US presence there and Washington has "no plans to change our posture in Qatar".

Soccer's governing body Federation Internationale de Football Association said it remained in regular contact with Qatar, which will host the 2022 World Cup. It did not elaborate. Qatar Airways, which signed up as a World Cup sponsor last month, has been forced to reroute journeys over Iranian and Turkish airspace after Saudi Arabia and Egypt blocked Qatari flights from using their airspace.

Qatar vehemently denies the accusations.

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Qatar is also a major regional diplomatic player and global investor and is set to host the World Cup, football's biggest tournament, in 2022.

Maersk, the world's biggest container shipping line, said it was unable to transport goods in or out of Qatar because it could not take them through the UAE port of Jebel Ali.

It was unclear if the suspension would extend, a spokeswoman said.

He said his recent visit to Saudi Arabia was "already paying off" and the development might mark the "beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism", BBC reported.

The air route between Doha and Dubai is popular among business travelers and both are major transit hubs for travelers between Asia and Europe.

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