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5 Arab countries sever diplomatic ties with Qatar

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Yemen on Monday cut links with Qatar, in the worst rift in years among some of the major states in the Arab world.

Saudi Arabia and Bahrain were the first to sever all diplomatic ties with Qatar, citing national security concerns.

In a Foreign Ministry statement, Saudi Arabia accused Doha of sheltering and backing terrorist groups, promoting terrorist groups in the media, and supporting Houthi militia in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia shuts Al Jazeera office amid row with Doha

The Saudi authorities on Monday closed the local office of Doha-based satellite news network Al Jazeera amid a severe diplomatic row between Qatar and several other Arab states.

The Ministry of Culture and Information has closed the Al Jazeera channel's office in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and withdrew its [broadcasting] license, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

The SPA said the decision had been taken after the network allegedly promoted plots of terrorist groups, supported the Houthi militias in Yemen and tried to break Saudi internal ranks by inciting them to leave the country and harm the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Cairo also blamed the Qatari government for "hostile attitudes," sheltering the Muslim Brotherhood on its soil, and backing terror groups threatening the country's national security.

Bahrain's Foreign Ministry accused the Qatari government of destabilizing the country's security and stability and interfering in its affairs.

Qatar has "spread chaos in Bahrain in flagrant violation of all agreements and covenants and principles of international law without regard to values, the law, or morals or consideration of the principles of good neighborliness or commitment to the constants of Gulf relations, and in denial of all previous commitments, it said.

Bahrain recalled its diplomats from Qatar and gave all Qatari citizens 14 days to leave Bahraini territories.

The UAE also gave Qatari diplomats 48 hours to leave the country, accusing Doha of "supporting, funding and embracing terrorism, extremism and sectarian organizations".

The Yemeni government also severed relations with Qatar, accusing it of dealing with Houthi rebels in Yemen.

In response, Qatar regretted the decision to cut relations with Doha, saying the move was unjustified and was based on claims and groundless allegations.

Issuing a statement, the Qatari Foreign Ministry said the measure aimed to impose guardianship on the country, which is a violation of its sovereignty, something which totally rejected.

Turkey wants Qatar row resolved peacefully: FM

Ankara wants a peaceful solution to the diplomatic rift between five Arab states and Qatar, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.

Dialogue should be continued under all circumstances so the existing problems can be solved in a peaceful way, he said.

He expressed Turkey's sorrow at the decisions to cut off ties, citing the importance of regional unity and solidarity.

Turkey sees the unity and solitary among Gulf states as our own unity, he said.

Unity among the countries of the region is important for fighting Daesh, radicalism, Islamophobia, and sectarianism, he added.

Iraqi VP calls for dialogue between Qatar, Arab states

Iraqi Vice-President Iyad Allawi on Monday called for genuine dialogue between Qatar and a handful of Arab states that abruptly severed relations with Doha earlier Monday.

Wisdom demands that we hold a conference at which genuine dialogue might be engaged in with a view to clarifying the situation, Allawi said in a statement.

He warned that the current crisis in inter-Arab relations has the potential to destroy what remains [of stability] in the region and adversely impact several countries, including Iraq.

It is regrettable that the situation in the Arab world has entered such a dangerous phase, he added.

Iran FM calls for dialog to resolve Gulf diplomatic row

Iran's Foreign Ministry on Monday called for diplomacy and dialog to end a severe diplomatic crisis that has erupted between Qatar and several other Arab states.

In a statement, ministry spokesman Bahram Ghassemi expressed his country's desire to see a short-term resolution of the diplomatic row.

These days, we are all linked to one another, Ghassemi said, describing recent attempts by the Gulf States to punish Doha -- by, for example, closing their land borders with Qatar -- as ineffective.

Such sanctions are not effective, he said. This is not acceptable behavior.

Russia to continue 'good' ties with Persian Gulf states

Russia will continue to maintain "good" ties with Persian Gulf states, a Kremlin spokesman said Monday.

Speaking to reporters, Dmitry Peskov said: "We are really interested in maintaining these good relations and in having a stable and peaceful atmosphere in the Persian Gulf where the existing differences are resolved," according to Russian news agency TASS.

Peskov said Moscow expects the situation to defuse in a "peaceful" atmosphere.

"Russia cannot interfere in the internal affairs of other states, in this case, the Persian Gulf states," he said.

The new escalation came two weeks after the website of Qatar's official news agency was allegedly hacked by unknown individuals who reportedly published statements falsely attributed to its emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani.

Qatar's crisis in relations

The crisis began on May 23 when Qatar's official News Agency (QNA) website was reportedly hacked by an unknown group that allegedly posted false remarks -- attributed to Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani -- about U.S. foreign policy and Iran.

The same day, the Twitter account of Qatar's foreign minister featured a statement urging the ambassadors of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to leave Qatar within 24 hours.

Although the minister quickly said the offensive tweet -- like the statements posted on the QNA's website -- had been the work of hackers, tensions soon rose between Riyadh and Doha, with Saudi media questioning Qatar's hacker story.

Quickly becoming a full-fledged diplomatic row, the crisis eventually led to the QNA website, Qatar State Television and Qatar-based news agency Al Jazeera to be banned in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Egypt and Bahrain have also blocked access to Al Jazeera, along with other Qatari media outlets.

Al Jazeera has so far refrained from commenting, merely saying: We are reviewing the news about our channels and digital platforms being blocked in some countries of the region.

On Monday, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt and Yemen all abruptly announced their decision to sever diplomatic relations with Doha, citing national security concerns.

Source: Anadolu Agency