Arab states cut ties to Qatar for backing terror
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Arab states cut ties to Qatar for backing terror

Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and UAE accuse Doha of meddling in internal affairs, supporting Iran-backed terrorism and destabilizing region

This file photo taken on May 21, 2017 shows US President Donald Trump (R) shaking hands with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, during a bilateral meeting at a hotel in the Saudi capital Riyadh. (AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan)
This file photo taken on May 21, 2017 shows US President Donald Trump (R) shaking hands with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, during a bilateral meeting at a hotel in the Saudi capital Riyadh. (AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan)

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt all announced they were cutting ties to Qatar and booting the country from an Arab coalition fighting in Yemen early Monday, amid a deepening fissure between Gulf Arab nations.

The move came to weeks after US President Donald Trump visited Saudi Arabia, calling on Arab and Muslim leaders to fight extremism and terrorism, and isolate Iran.

The dispute between Qatar and the Gulf’s Arab countries started over a purported hack of Qatar’s state-run news agency, running a false story quoting a top official touting relations with Israel and Iran. The crisis has spiraled since.

Bahrain blamed Qatar’s “media incitement, its support for acts of terror and financing for armed groups associated with Iran to carry out subversive attacks and spread chaos” for its decision.

Saudi Arabia followed with an announcement that it too was cutting diplomatic ties to Qatar and it had pulled all Qatari troops from the ongoing war in Yemen.

In this April 5, 2017 photo, released by the Saudi Press Agency, SPA, Saudi King Salman, right, and Defense Minister and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman wave as they leave the hall after talks with the British prime minister, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Saudi Press Agency via AP)
In this April 5, 2017 photo, released by the Saudi Press Agency, SPA, Saudi King Salman, right, and Defense Minister and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman wave as they leave the hall after talks with the British prime minister, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Saudi Press Agency via AP)

Saudi news agency SPA said Riyadh cut diplomatic ties and closed borders with its neighbor to “protect its national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism.”

Both the UAE and Egypt made announcements on their state-run news agencies within minutes of each other a short time later.

The UAE accused Qatar of “destabilizing security of the region.”

Egypt said Doha was supporting “terrorism.” The foreign affairs ministry said in a statement that its ports and airports were closed to Qatari vessels and planes.

Qatar had no immediate comment.

The announcements come a day after a report that the Palestinian Hamas terror group, partially funded by Iran, was being forced out of Qatar, with Doha citing “external pressures.”

Hamas denied the report but said some officials were leaving the tiny, energy-rich Gulf nation anyway.

Bahrain’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said it would withdraw its diplomatic mission from the Qatari capital of Doha within 48 hours and that all Qatari diplomats should leave Bahrain within the same period.

The ministry’s statement said Qatari citizens needed to leave Bahrain within two weeks and that air and sea traffic between the two countries would be halted. It wasn’t immediately clear how that would affect Qatar Airways, one of the region’s major long-haul carriers.

Ties between Qatar and other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council spiraled in late May. Qatar said hackers took control of the website of its state-run news agency to publish what it called fake comments from its ruling emir about Iran and Israel, roiling relations with its neighbors.

Doha-based satellite news network Al-Jazeera remains blocked in several countries over the row.

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