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Qatar row: Trump wades into Gulf stand-off

Qatar row: Trump wades into Gulf stand-off

Map showing route of Qatar Airways flights on Tuesday, 6 June Qatar row: Trump wades into Gulf stand-off

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FlightRadar24.com

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Flight tracking technology by the FlightRadar24 website shows the limited route being taken by Qatar Airways flights on Tuesday morning

US President Donald Trump has said he was told during his recent visit to Saudi Arabia that neighbouring Qatar was funding "radical ideology".

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, Yemen, Libya's eastern-based government and the Maldives have all cut diplomatic and other ties with Qatar.

They accuse it of supporting terrorism in the Gulf region.

Analysts say the timing of the move, two weeks after a visit to Saudi Arabia by Mr Trump, is crucial.

Mr Trump's speech in the Saudi capital Riyadh, in which he blamed Iran for instability in the Middle East and urged Muslim countries to take the lead in combating radicalisation, is seen as likely to have emboldened Gulf allies to act against Qatar.

"During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology. Leaders pointed to Qatar – look!" Mr Trump tweeted on Tuesday.

In the same week as Mr Trump's speech, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE blocked Qatari news sites, including al-Jazeera.

Now Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the UAE have given Qatari nationals two weeks to leave, banned their own citizens from travelling to Qatar, and cut all transport links.

Qatar is backing plans for talks with its regional rivals as the diplomatic row gathers pace.

Kuwait – one of the Gulf countries not involved in the dispute – has offered to mediate talks, and Qatar said it was receptive to dialogue. Kuwait's emir is travelling to Saudi Arabia for talks.

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani told al-Jazeera that Qatar was seeking "a dialogue of openness and honesty".

What has happened?

Qatar row: Trump wades into Gulf stand-off
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Media captionThe evidence of the rift is clear at Doha's airport, the BBC's James Robbins reports

The states that joined Monday's move against Qatar, a tiny but gas-rich peninsula, include some of the biggest powers in the Arab world.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE closed all transport links.

Disruption to airspace in the Gulf began on Tuesday morning local time. Doha, Qatar's capital, is a major hub for international flight connections.

Airlines affected by the airspace restrictions include Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways and Emirates. Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have revoked the licences of Qatar Airways and ordered its offices to close within 48 hours.

When avoiding Saudi Arabia, their massive – and only – neighbour, Qatar's planes are having to take more indirect routes, leading to longer flight times.

In a country reliant on imported food, residents have started to stockpile.

"People have stormed into the supermarket hoarding food, especially imported ones," one Doha resident, Eva Tobaji, told Reuters. "It's chaos – I've never seen anything like this before."

How the economy may be hit: Andrew Walker, BBC News

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AFP

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Residents were stockpiling water on Monday

A substantial amount of Qatar's food is transported across the border from Saudi Arabia, which is being closed. That is also an important route for construction materials – needed for the energy industry and for the preparations for the 2022 football World Cup.

Qatar's exports are dominated by oil and gas. They are mostly seaborne, so should not be immediately hit, but the general economic disruption could have an impact if the dispute drags on.

That possibility pushed the price of crude oil higher, but only briefly. Qatar is a member of the exporters' group Opec and the dispute could yet undermine the organisation's efforts to raise prices by restricting production.

Why has this happened?

While the severing of ties was sudden, it has not come out of the blue, as tensions have been building for years, and particularly in recent weeks.

Broadly, two key factors drove Monday's decision: Qatar's ties to Islamist groups, and to Iran, Saudi Arabia's regional rival.

Wealthy individuals in Qatar are believed to have made donations and the government has given money and weapons to hardline Islamist groups in Syria – Qatar says this is not the case.

The Financial Times also reports that Gulf allies were angry that Qatar had paid a $1bn (£773m) ransom to jihadists and Iranian security officials after Qatari nationals were kidnapped in Iraq and Syria.

Is Saudi to blame for IS?

Saudi Arabia, too, has been accused of funding IS, either directly or by failing to prevent private donors from sending money to the group – allegations it denies.

The latest reaction

Qatar row: Trump wades into Gulf stand-off
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Media captionUS Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urges Gulf states to "address differences"

  • In the interview with al-Jazeera, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said Qatar would not retaliate but was unhappy with regional rivals "trying to impose their will on Qatar or intervene in its internal affairs"
  • He said Qatar's emir, at the request of his Kuwaiti counterpart, had cancelled a speech scheduled later for Tuesday, to allow negotiations to proceed calmly
  • The Philippines, which has an estimated 200,000 residents in Qatar, said it had stopped the deployment of workers to the Gulf state. Labour official Silvestre Bello said he feared Filipinos in Qatar would "be the first victims" in the event of riots over food shortages

Are you due to fly to or from Qatar? Will you be affected by the disruption? Let us know by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk

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