Major Confrontation Between Saudi, Egypt, UAE Against Qatar Over Terror Support
Several countries took major moves against Qatar today over its support for terror. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain severed diplomatic ties, setting off a major crisis in the Middle East.
The move also cuts Qatar's transit rights with these countries:
The BBC reports:
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing it of destabilising the region.
The countries say Qatar is supporting terrorist groups including the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Saudi state news agency SPA said Riyadh had closed its borders, severing land, sea and air contact.
It cited officials as saying it was to "protect its national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism".
Egypt has also closed its airspace and ports for all Qatari transportation, the foreign ministry said.
The United Arab Emirates has given Qatari diplomats 48 hours to leave the country. Abu Dhabi accuses Doha of "supporting, funding and embracing terrorism, extremism and sectarian organisations," state news agency WAM said.
Bahrain's state news agency said the country was cutting ties with Qatar over "shaking the security and stability of Bahrain and meddling in its affairs".
Kuwait and Oman are sitting this one out for the moment:
Which leaves Iran as Qatar's main lifeline:
And with transit rights cut off, they're going to need one:
Of course, Qatar's support for terrorism is no secret in the Middle East:
And the behind-the-scenes activity may have been behind reports over the weekend regarding Qatar's sponsorship of Hamas:
It remains to be seen if Qatar will invoke its joint defense agreement with Iran in response to these measures.
Apparently it was Qatar's close ties with Iran and siding with the Iranian-backed Houthi militias in Yemen that contributed to this crisis.
The Saudi foreign minister was in Cairo meeting with his Egyptian counterpart yesterday, and they issued a joint declaration against extremism.
So it's not surprising to see the Egyptian press this morning:
One sticky question related to Egypt remains unanswered at this point: will Qatar still be able to transit the Suez Canal?
If it stops shipping traffic from Qatar, that may raise significant international trade and law issues.
On Friday, a UAE media outlet published an interview with a member of the Qatari ruling family attacking their support for terrorism and seemingly backing him as a replacement for the current emir:
Needless to say, this is a major development in the Middle East.
NBC News Politics managing editor Dafna Linzer couldn't decide if this was a good or bad development for the Trump administration, so she decided to take both sides of the issue -- all within 17 minutes of each other (HT: David Shor):
There are serious implications for the U.S., possibly putting us in the middle of a Gulf-state hot war.
This may also split the State Department, with many Obama hold-overs still loyal to the president's Iran policy, including the U.S. ambassador to Qatar.
It seems the U.S. ambassador in Qatar has gone rogue, publicly supporting Qatar against most of our major Arab allies in the Middle East.
Oh, and then there's this:
Oooff, bad timing for the Brookings Institution:
And Al Jazeera: