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People's Daily Online

Saudi-Qatar diplomatic dispute escalates

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 15:49, June 05, 2017

DUBAI, June 5 (Xinhua) -- The political tug-of-war between a Saudi-led group of Arab countries and the Gulf state of Qatar escalated on early Monday when Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt said they cut their diplomatic relations with Doha after a week of tit-for-tats and accusations on "terrorism support."

The announcement by the Saudi-led coalition to severe diplomatic ties with Qatar marks the culmination of a year-long dispute between some Gulf Arab states and Qatar.

Since the outbreak of the Arab turmoil, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in particular along with the UAE and Bahrain have been accusing the ruling Qatari family Al-Thani of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt which gained power after its leader Mohamed Morsi was elected President of Egypt in 2012 following the fall of the Mubarak regime in February 2011.

The differences escalated earlier after U.S. President Donald Trump and Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz pledged a united stance against Iran, accusing the Islamic Republic of sponsoring "terrorism" in Yemen, Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Shortly after, Qatar's state news agency QNA released a statement by Qatar's Emir Al-Thani saying Iran was an "Islamic power," a statement which Qatar later denied claiming QNA's website was "hacked."

Relations between Qatar and the other Gulf Arab states suffered an eight-month breach in 2014 over the kingdom's support for the Muslim Brotherhood.

The diplomatic rift came just days after the Riyadh summit, where U.S. President Donald Trump called on the Sunni Arab nations to isolate Iran and ensured his Arab allies that Iran would "never have a nuclear bomb."

The UAE and Saudi Arabia accuse Iran of funding and arming Shiite Houthi rebels in war-torn Yemen, where a Saudi-led pan-Arab military coalition has been fighting the Houthis in favor of the legitimate government of Abdu-Rabbu Mansour Hadi since March 2015.

Qatar is also part of this coalition. On Saturday, Qatari media reported that at least four of its soldiers have been killed during operations in Yemen. Qatar and Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman are part of the 1981-founded union Gulf co-operation council (GCC).

Earlier last week, the UAE and Saudi also blocked the Qatari government-owned news channel Al Jazeera and its Arabic and English website.

The UAE government said in a statement earlier today released by WAM "The United Arab Emirates regrets the policies taken by the Qatari authorities that lead to the rupture among the peoples of the region. It affirms its adult respect and appreciation for the brotherly people of Qatar for its ties of ties, relations, history and religion."

This diplomatic crisis marks a new low point within the GCC since 1992 when a shooting at the Saudi-Qatari border left two Qatari and one Saudi dead.

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