Published: Fri, June 09, 2017
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

UAE turns screw on Qatar, threatens sympathisers with jail


Since the diplomatic row erupted, slogans against and in support of Qatar have dominated Twitter in Arabic, a platform used widely in the Arab world, particularly in Saudi Arabia.

In a surprise move against a key US ally, Trump suggested Qatar - home to the largest American airbase in the Middle East - was funding extremism as he tacitly backed the diplomatic blockade of the emirate.

On June 5, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates severed diplomatic relations with Qatar. Qatar hosts 8,000 U.S. military personnel at al-Udeid, the largest USA airbase in the Middle East and a launchpad for US-led strikes on the Islamic State militant group. And a State Department official said an approved but pending sale of F-15 fighter planes to Qatar hasn't been affected.

Momani said Jordan hopes that the Arab countries overcome this "regrettable stage" and resolve the crisis on solid ground, the news agency said.

The Gulf countries have ordered their citizens out of Qatar and gave Qataris overseas 14 days to return home. The Arab countries have blocked Qatari vessels from entering their airspace, as well as using their seaports as Saudi Arabia has closed off its land border.

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Kuwait's emir has also been seeking to mediate, meeting Saudi's king on Tuesday. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that isolating Qatar, including the use of sanctions, would not resolve any problems, adding that Ankara would continue to do everything in its power to help end the crisis.

"This is not about regime change - this is about change of policy, change of approach", Gargash said.

Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates lose patience with Qatar.

A total of 27 flights from Dubai to Doha had been scheduled for Tuesday and the Dubai Airports website showed all flights to Doha had been cancelled.

Emirati officials said they perceived Trump's tweets as a sign Qatar shouldn't count on America taking its side despite US having some 10,000 troops based in the country's al-Udeid Air Base. As the forward headquarters of U.S. Central Command, it is seen as crucial in the U.S. -led campaign against the Islamic State group.

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Al Qassemi, who previously wrote a column describing steps Qatar would need to take, said that the crisis will only escalate if Doha doesn't back down.

Several countries cut travel and embassy links with Qatar on Monday.

The air route between Doha and Dubai is popular among business travelers, and both are major transit hubs for travelers between Asia and Europe. He said his country was "protecting the world from potential terrorists".

Riyadh also accused Doha of supporting Iran-backed "terrorist activities" in eastern Saudi Arabia and in Shiite-majority Bahrain.

On Monday, Abu Dhabi based Etihad Airlines also suspended its flights to Qatar.

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Qatar's government said the May 23 news report attributed false remarks to the emirate's ruler that appeared friendly to Iran and Israel, and questioned whether US President Donald Trump would last in office, according to CNN.

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