Saudi Arabia and three other Arab states have severed diplomatic and transport links with Qatar as a result of its support for Islamist groups, deepening the split between Gulf nations.
Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) joined Saudi Arabia in the announcement that involves withdrawing all diplomatic staff from Qatar.
Saudi Arabia has closed its border with Qatar and suspended all flights. All Qatari citizens residing in Saudi Arabia have been told they must leave within 14 days. It will also remove Qatar from the Arab coalition fighting in Yemen.
The synchronized attempt to isolate Qatar followed a report published by the UAE which noted that Qatar “funds and supports terror and extremist organisations.” Qatar has been criticized for some time by its Arab neighbors for supporting Islamist groups, as well as its closeness to Iran and sponsorship of Al-Jazeera.
Arab intelligence sources said the announcement by Saudi Arabia was coordinated with the Trump administration following the U.S. president’s first overseas visit to Saudi Arabia, during which he endorsed the Saudi campaign to challenge Iranian interference in the Arab world.
The Lebanese Al-Mayadeen television network, closely linked to Hezbollah, reported that Qatar is due to deport several Hamas leaders. According to the report, Qatar said that “the demand to expel high ranking Hamas officials stems from external pressure, and Qatar regrets that it must demand that Hamas officials leave.” The news followed Arab media reports that Iran is expected to resume support for Hamas. Hamas denied the reports.
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