Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have all broken diplomatic relations with Qatar.
The huge decision came over Qatar’s alleged support of terrorism.
Saudi Arabia accused Qatar of backing militant groups and spreading their violent ideology, in an apparent reference to its influential state-owned satellite channel Al-Jazeera. Qatar has denied supporting terrorism or Iran in the past.
“(Qatar) embraces multiple terrorist and sectarian groups aimed at disturbing stability in the region, including the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) and Al-Qaeda, and promotes the message and schemes of these groups through their media constantly,” state news agency SPA said.
A statement on Saudi Arabia’s state news agency announced the move Monday morning, in order to “protect national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism.”
The statement added that all points of entry between Saudi Arabia and Qatar would be closed.
The Saudi Press Agency said the Saudi government would also reach out to its allies “and start the immediate legal procedures for understanding with fraternal and friendly countries and international companies to implement the same procedure as soon as possible for all means of transport to and from the State of Qatar, for reasons related to Saudi national security.”
The move is sure to affect the Gulf Cooperation Council, which is made up of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar.
UAE, Bahrain exile Qataris
In a statement, the UAE cited Qatar’s “ongoing policies that rattle the security and sovereignty of the region as well as its manipulation and evasion of its commitments and treaties” as the reason for its move.
Qataris in the UAE have been given a 2-week notice to leave the country, with Qataris banned from entering the country.
UAE’s Etihad Airways has also announced that flights to Qatar would stop on Tuesday.
Bahrain’s foreign ministry issued a statement Monday saying it was suspending diplomatic relations “in order to preserve its national security.”
“Based on the insistence of the State of Qatar to continue to destabilize the security and stability of the Kingdom of Bahrain, to interfere in its affairs, to continue the escalation and incitement of the media, and supporting armed terrorist activities, and financing groups associated with Iran to subvert and spread chaos in Bahrain in flagrant violation of all agreements and the principles of international law without regard to values, law, morals, consideration of the principles of good neighborliness, or commitment to the constants of Gulf relations, and the denial of all previous commitments.”
Bahrain was more severe with its rules, giving Qatari diplomats only 2 days to leave the country, and closing air and sea ports between the two countries a day after.
Iran, whose backing is thought to be one of the problems with Qatar, has criticized the decision, saying its not the right move.
“The era of cutting diplomatic ties and closing borders … is not a way to resolve crisis … As I said before, aggression and occupation will have no result but instability,” Hamid Aboutalebi, deputy chief of staff of Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, tweeted on Monday.