6 June 2017

Egypt: What Is Happening in Qatar?

What happened Monday?

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Maldives cut diplomatic ties Monday with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism.

Qatar's Foreign Affairs Ministry said the measures are "unjustified and are based on baseless and unfounded allegations."

What triggered action?

Last month, reports quoted Qatari leader Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani as questioning U.S. hostility toward Iran and claiming "tensions" between Qatar and the United States. Those reports were published on the Qatar News Agency website.

Qatar said it had been the victim of a "shameful cybercrime." Despite Doha's official denial, media outlets in several Gulf countries reported the emir's comments as fact.

Back story:

Although Qatar claims the posted comments were false, the country has long been seen by its neighbors as supporting Islamists in the region - particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, a Sunni Islamist political group outlawed by both Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain recalled their ambassadors from Doha before in 2014 over its backing of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, a Brotherhood member. Eight months later, the envoys returned when Qatar forced a number of Brotherhood members to leave the country.

How nations reacted:

United States: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he does not expect Monday's actions to have an impact on the fight against terrorism in the region or globally. He urged all of the parties to address their disagreements.

Tillerson said that if there's any role the U.S. can play "in terms of helping them address those" issues, "we think it is important" that the Gulf Cooperation Council "remain unified."

Saudi Arabia: "(Qatar) embraces multiple terrorist and sectarian groups aimed at disturbing stability in the region, including the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS (Islamic State) and al-Qaida," Saudi state news agency SPA said. Saudi Arabia also shut down Qatar-based Al Jazeera news' local office Monday, according to state media.

Egypt: Through its state news agency said that Qatar's policy "threatens Arab national security and sows the seeds of strife and division within Arab societies according to a deliberate plan aimed at the unity and interests of the Arab nation."

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