June 5 (UPI) — Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates broke off diplomatic relations with Qatar, they announced Monday.
Citing Qatar’s support of terrorism and destabilization of the region, the official Saudi Press Agency said Qatari officials have “repeatedly violated their international obligations and the agreements they signed under the umbrella of the Gulf Cooperation Council for Arab States to cease hostilities against the Kingdom [of Saudi Arabia] and stand against terrorist activities.”
It cited alleged Qatari support of al-Qaida and the Islamic State, also identified as Daesh, ISIS and ISIL.
Qatar was also expelled from the council, which includes Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait, CNN reported..
The UAE offered a similar analysis of the diplomatic measures, citing “Qatar’s continued support, funding and hosting of terror groups, primarily Islamic Brotherhood, and its sustained endeavors to promote the ideologies of the Islamic State and al-Qaida across its direct and indirect media.”
Libya, The Maldives and Yemen also broke off diplomatic relations with Qatar. The UAE advised Qataris in the country to leave with 14 days; Saudi Arabia, which shares a land border with Qatar, closed its ports, roads and airports to Qatari traffic. All countries severing ties with Qatar suspended air flights to and from the country, and Egypt ordered Qatar’s ambassador to leave within 48 hours. Saudi Arabia said Qatari troops in the Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen would be recalled home.
The decision came after Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamin bin Hamad al-Thani allegedly made pro-Iranian comments two weeks ago, calling Iran an “Islamic power” and criticizing U.S. President Donald Trump‘s policy toward Iran. The countries now isolating Qatar blocked reports by Arab news agencies of the emir’s remarks. And though the comments appeared on Qatar’s official website, Qatari authorities said the website has hacked and the comments fabricated.
Bahrain’s official news agency said the cutting of diplomatic ties was forced because Qatar was “shaking the security and stability of Bahrain and meddling in its affairs.”
The United States’ largest concentration of military personnel in the Middle East is at the Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, where 11,000 U.S. personnel are stationed.