11 June, 2017
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, the internationally recognized government in Yemen and the leadership in Eastern Libya have all suspended diplomatic and commercial links to Qatar, including air travel.
Saudi Arabia accused Qatar of supporting terrorists and sectarian groups.
In an interview with AFP, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani described as an attempt at "collective punishment" a decision by Saudi Arabia and its allies to cut ties with Qatar over alleged financing of extremist groups.
Kuwait, which has maintained its ties with Qatar, is stepping in to mediate the conflict, which may escalate into a regional cold war with the Iranians on one side and the Saudis on the other.
The president did not limit his call for greater action against terrorism to Qatar alone but instead urged "Qatar and other nations in the region to do more to combat terrorism and do it faster".
The accusations against Qatar aren't particularly new.
Gause also noted Qatar's relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood "and other oppositional political groups", as well as Qatari cooperation with Iran on some issues "at a time when Saudi Arabia is confronting Iran directly on all sorts of fronts". The Arab countries aren't just recalling diplomats; they're also closing airspace to Qatar and restricting access by sea.
FC Barcelona enjoys huge support in the Middle East, leading some to question whether the football team's current kit could be dragged into the diplomatic spat.
Al Thani also denied any Qatari involvement in a separate hack of emails belonging to the UAE's Washington ambassador, which have surfaced at various news agencies this week.
The worldwide agency Standard and Poors announced Wednesday that it lowered its rating on Qatar's long-term debt to AA-minus because of the country's dispute with its neighbours.
It did not say who might have carried out the hack. One of the reasons listed was that Facebook (QNA's Instagram account had carried the Qatai Emir's controversial comments) "is very hard to hack".
UAE airlines Etihad and Emirates said all travellers holding Qatari passports were now prohibited from travelling to or transiting through the emirates. "'Fake news', decried by everyone from Donald Trump to Theresa May to Vladimir Putin, has now shown up in the broadcasts of Sky News Arabia and Al Arabiya news channels", the report began. But since the country's consumption is around 100,000 tons a year, it can source from elsewhere, the report said.
US Secretary of Defense James Mattis was informed of the Gulf nations' plans to cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, according to a Pentagon spokeswoman.
On Saturday he was in Moscow to see Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, a day after visiting Germany and Brussels.
CNN and The Guardian have also reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation believes Russian hackers planted a false story about the emir of Qatar in recent weeks, potentially contributing to the crisis. "We believe these are unintended consequences, especially during this holy month of Ramadan, but they can be addressed immediately".
"The next step is for Qatar to acknowledge these concerns and commit to re-examine its regional policies", Yousuf Al Otaiba, UAE Ambassador to the USA, told WAM.
"There are numerous uncertainties regarding Qatar's response, the extent to which these measures will be imposed, and their longevity", said the ratings agency. "Hopefully it will be the beginning of the end of funding terrorism".