In a shocking twist of events, five major Arab nations severed diplomatic ties to Qatar over allegations it supports ISIS and backs the agenda of Shi’ite-majority Iran.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Bahrain and Yemen all announced they would withdraw their diplomatic ambassadors from the country while ordering Qatar’s to leave their territories within 48 hours. The three Gulf kingdoms have also ordered Qatari residents to leave within two weeks.
Saudi Arabia has also ordered Qatari troops be pulled from the Saudi-led coalition against Houthi rebels in Yemen.
The five countries have since closed off their air, land and sea contact with the peninsula.
Although the move was sudden, it was not totally unexpected. Tensions have long been simmering between Qatar and the five Arab nations, especially in recent weeks, after alleged comments by Qatari emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, in which he criticized the harsh rhetoric aimed at Iran by the Gulf states and the United States and asserted his support for Palestinian militant group Hamas and his ties with Israel.
Doha has dismissed these allegations calling them a “shameful cybercrime” and stating the state news agency was hacked.
Although Qatar has joined the U.S. coalition against ISIS, its government has been forced to deny accusation that it provides financial back up to the terrorist organization. However, it's believed wealthy Qataris made several donations and the government has given weapons, not just money, to the terrorist Islamist group in Syria.
Saudi Arabia also accuses Qatar of backing Shia militants in Bahrain, having links with the Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate, as well as the Muslim Brotherhood and alleges it "promotes the message and schemes of these groups through their media constantly.”
However, many people are calling Saudi Arabia a hypocrite as it has also been accused of funding ISIS, either directly or by failing to stop private donors from ending money to the group. These allegations have been denied by the kingdom.
Meanwhile, in the United States, it has come to light that U.A.E. Ambassador to the U.S. Yousef Al Otaiba — an extremely powerful figure in Washington — has been in constant contact with President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and has been pushing the U.S. to close down its military base in Qatar. The emails, sent by an anonymous source to multiple news agencies, also allege that U.A.E. has been pushing for anti-Qatar criticism in the U.S. and had called for a smear campaign against the tiny Gulf nation.
Qatar’s stock markets plunged drastically hours after the boycott was announced.
"The measures are unjustified and are based on claims and allegations that have no basis in fact," Al Jazeera quoted the foreign ministry as saying. It said the decisions would "not affect the normal lives of citizens and residents.”