Saudi shuts Al-Jazeera office in Qatar row: ministry

Cesar Mills
June 6, 2017

The crisis was likely to have wide-ranging consequences, not just for Qatar and its citizens but around the Middle East and for Western interests.

Iran, long at odds with Saudi Arabia and a behind-thescenes target of the move, blamed US President Donald Trump's visit last month to Riyadh.

As Al Jazeera reports, the diplomatic crisis threw airports in the Gulf into chaos, as major worldwide airlines like Qatar Airways, Dubai-based Emirates, and Abu Dhabi-based Etihad, had to adjust to the new restrictions.

Qataris living in the four countries have been given 14 days to return home, with Qatar's diplomats also set to be ejected. Some residents in Qatar have begun stockpiling food and supplies, Qatari media reported. The Qatar Stock Exchange fell more than 7 per cent.

In 2014, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar to protest its support for the Muslim Brotherhood, a group that is labeled a terrorist organization in the three countries.

They claim Qatar is funding militant groups which operate in their countries, such as Al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood and the so-called Islamic State, which Qatar denies.

The rift between Qatar and other Arab nations intensified Monday when Saudi Arabia closed its land border with Qatar and at least five Gulf-based airlines announced they will halt service to the desert peninsula nation.

Saudi Arabia's General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) said on Monday it had banned all Qatari planes from landing in the kingdom's airports and from its airspace.

Qatar's Foreign Affairs Ministry said the measures are "unjustified and are based on baseless and unfounded allegations".

Multiple airlines, including Emirates and Gulf Air, announced they're halting flights in and out of Qatar's capital beginning Tuesday.

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The countries include Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, Yemen, Libya and the Maldives.

Bangladesh also supported Saudi-led strikes in Yemen where rebel Houthi fighters, representing a Shia minority, was backed by Iran.

In response to the concerns, a FIFA spokesperson told Omnisport: "FIFA is in regular contact with the Qatar 2022 Local Organising Committee and the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy handling matters relating to the 2022 FIFA World Cup".

The only American response was made by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who said that the two sides to the dispute need to hold talks to work out their differences.

Iran issued a neutral statement on the crisis, urging Qatar and its neighbours to resolve their differences "through political and peaceful methods and dialogue between the parties".

Kuwait, a member of the six-nation GCC alliance, did not join other states in severing ties with Qatar.

Qatar said its state-run news agency and Twitter account were hacked and the story was fake, but state-linked media continued to publish the comments.

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.

"US military aircraft continue to conduct missions in support of ongoing operations in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan", said Marine Corps Major Adrian JT Rankine-Galloway, a Pentagon spokesman, voicing "no plans to change our posture in Qatar".

Before Monday, Qatar had appeared unperturbed by the growing political tensions.

Other reports by GizPress

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