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AKIPRESS.COM - Four Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and moved to close off access to the Gulf country, escalating a crisis that started over its relationship with Iran and its support of the Muslim Brotherhood, Bloomberg reports.
The governments of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt said in statements they will suspend air and sea travel to and from Qatar. Saudi Arabia will shut land crossings with its neighbor, according to the official Saudi Press Agency, potentially depriving the emirate of imports.
The move by the energy-rich Gulf Arab countries comes after U.S. President Donald Trump recently visited Saudi Arabia. The kingdom and the U.A.E. want to stamp out potential threats to a united front against Iranian influence in the Middle East. The two countries are prodding Qatar to end its support for Islamist movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.
“The Saudi-U.A.E. campaign kicked into high gear on Monday with the kingdom, the Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt breaking off diplomatic relations with Qatar, ” said James M. Dorsey, a Gulf specialist and senior fellow in international studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. “It’s reminiscent of a similar failed effort by Gulf states in 2014, but this time round sets the bar far higher.”
Saudi Arabia cited Qatar’s support of “terrorist groups aiming to destabilize the region,” including the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic State and al-Qaeda. It accused Qatar of supporting “Iranian-backed terrorist groups” operating in the kingdom’s eastern province as well as Bahrain.
Saudi Arabia, along with Bahrain and the U.A.E., gave Qatari diplomats 48 hours to leave.