US Central Command says its flights out of Al-Udeid airbase in Qatar will be unaffected by the Gulf diplomatic crisis.
Qatar has expressed surprise over the “unjustified” decision by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, Bahrain, Yemen and the Maldives to suspend relations with Doha, saying that the decision was in “violation of its sovereignty”.
“It was clear from the outset that the aim of the media campaign and the decision to cut off diplomatic and consular relations and close the borders is to pressure Qatar to abandon its national decision-making and sovereignty,” the Qatari Cabinet said in a statement on Monday.
“The measures are unjustified and are based on claims and allegations that have no basis in fact,” the foreign ministry said in another statement, adding that the decisions would not affect the normal lives of citizens and residents.
“The aim is clear, and it is to impose guardianship on the state. This by itself is a violation of its [Qatar’s] sovereignty as a state,” it added.
Qatar has taken all necessary measures to ensure normal life and there is no need to panic or stock up essential items, according to a cabinet statement.
Import of goods and movement of people will not be affected as all channels of import other than those from the Gulf states, which severed ties with Qatar, will continue to work as before, it said.
“Marine and air spaces will remain open for import and movement. We have taken all necessary precautions to ensure normal life,” the statement said.
Push for isolation
The Saudi kingdom made the announcement to cut ties via its state-run Saudi Press Agency early on Monday, saying it was taking action for what it called the protection of national security.
The news agency released a statement in which it accused Qatar of “harbouring a multitude of terrorist and sectarian groups that aim to create instability in the region”.
As part of the measures, Saudi Arabia said it would pull Qatari troops from the Yemen war.
The UAE said in a statement it was cutting all ties with Qatar. It also ordered Qatari citizens to leave the country within 14 days and banned its citizens from travelling to Qatar.
Bahrain’s foreign ministry issued a statement saying it would withdraw its diplomatic mission from Doha within 48 hours and that all Qatari diplomats should leave Bahrain within the same period.
Egypt also announced the closure of its airspace and seaports to all Qatari transportation “to protect its national security”, the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Later on Monday, the Maldives said in a statement that it took the decision to sever diplomatic ties “because of its firm opposition to activities that encourage terrorism and extremism”.
Libya’s out-of-mandate Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni later joined the Arab nations in saying they too would cut ties.
“This is the most serious political crisis in the region in years,” said Hashem Ahelbarra, Al Jazeera’s senior Middle East correspondent. “There are two aspects here, political and economic, to put more pressure on Qatar.
“The official statement here in Qatar is basically that they view [the fallout] as part of coordinated effort to further undermine Qatar.
“It will ultimately have to be solved at the diplomatic level.”
The dispute between Qatar and the Gulf’s Arab countries escalated after a recent hack of Qatar’s state-run news agency. It has spiralled since.
Following the hacking on Tuesday comments falsely attributed to Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, were published.
Qatar’s government categorically denied that the comments – in which the country’s leader expressed support for Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah and Israel while suggesting that US President Donald Trump may not last in power – were ever made.
“There are international laws governing such crimes, especially the cyberattack. [The hackers] will be prosecuted according to the law,” Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Qatar’s foreign minister, said on Wednesday.
UAE-based Sky News Arabia and Al Arabiya kept running the discredited story, despite the Qatari denials.