Four countries in the Middle East – United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt and Saudi Arabia – have cut relations with Qatar. This is the worst diplomatic crisis in decades for Gulf Arab States.
The three countries in the Gulf and Egypt accused Qatar of giving support to terrorism as well as destabilizing the area. Qatar, which shares the only land border it has with Saudi Arabia, rejected those accusations calling them both baseless and unjustified.
On Monday the official news agency out of Saudi Arabia announced its government’s decision to sever diplomatic ties with Qatar. The agency said Saudi’s government sought to protect its national security from the dangers of extremism and terrorism.
The Arab coalition, which is led by Saudi Arabia, fighting the Houthi rebels in Yemen expelled Qatar from that alliance, claiming support of ISIS and al-Qaeda, and dealing with rebel militias, said the state media in Saudi Arabia.
All entry points between the countries are to be closed, said the agency’s statement.
At the same time, the government of Yemen cut ties on Monday with Qatar, accusing it of supporting the Houthis according to the state news agency of Yemen.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, the UAE, Qatar and Kuwait form a regional close knit alliance called the Gulf Cooperation Council or GCC that was established 36 years ago.
The alliance is considered one of the Middle East’s most influential. Oman and Kuwait are the only remaining members of the GCC to maintain diplomatic ties with Qatar.
The decision on Monday comes just two weeks after Bahrain, Egypt, the UAE and Saudi Arabia blocked a number of media outlets in Qatari including Al Jazeera due to comments that were allegedly made by the Qatari Emir that hailed Iran as the Islamic power and that criticized U.S. President Trump’s policy towards the government of Tehran.
The comments by the Emir appeared on the official Qatar news agency, but Qatar has claimed the website had been hacked and the report was fabricated by the hackers.
Iran and Saudi Arabia have disagreements over many regional issues, including the nuclear program in Iran and what the Saudis say is the growing influence Tehran has in the kingdom’s sphere of influence in particular in Lebanon, Syria and Yemen.
In the UAE, Qatari nationals will not be allowed to enter the country and Qatari residents must leave within two weeks.