Four Arab states — a Saudi Arabian-led alliance that includes Egypt, United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain — have severed diplomatic ties with Qatar in what appears to be a coordinated move. This follows an accelerating dispute, which has likely ended a 36-year union, between the tiny oil-and-gas-rich country and other Gulf states. The Washington Post has been keeping a running timeline of (local-time) Monday morning events. All four countries made the move against Qatar within an hour of each other.
Bahrain jumped first with an announcement that Qatari diplomats should vacate the country within 48 hours, and vice versa, while citing Qatar’s “support for armed terrorist activities and funding linked to Iranian groups to carry out sabotage and spreading chaos in Bahrain.” Saudi Arabia followed (while urging other countries to join the movement) by pulling all Qatari troops from Yemen. UAE and Egypt soon cut ties as well. All four nations have halted air and sea travel between themselves and Qatar.
A few key issues have led to this severe move. First and foremost, the Saudi-led alliance takes issue with their ousted member’s backing of both the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran. Further, CNN reveals that recent purported statements from Qatar’s leader pushed the conflict to the brink. However, Qatar disputes the authenticity of the remarks and claims these comments source from a hacking of its state-run media:
Late last month, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt blocked several Qatari media outlets, including state-funded Al Jazeera, over comments allegedly made by Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Al Hamad Al Thani. Al Thani reportedly hailed Iran as an “Islamic power” and criticized US President Donald Trump’s policy towards Tehran.
The Emir’s comments appeared on Qatar’s official news agency, but Qatar claimed that the website was “hacked,” the report fabricated by the culprits.
Al Jazeera — which, it must be noted, is owned and partially funded by the Qatari government — has published more on the hacking controversy, including claims that the offending comments were debunked. Meanwhile, Doha (the Qatari capital) did not immediately provide comment on Monday morning, yet analysts believe this move will pressure Qatar to stop supporting the Muslim Brotherhood. Indeed, the Financial Times reports that oil prices have already jumped by 1.2 percent following the news.
And now, the world waits.
UPDATE: Qatar has issued a statement through Al Jazeera: “The measures are unjustified and are based on claims and allegations that have no basis in fact.”