Jordan downgrades ties with Qatar amid escalating split in Arab world
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Jordan downgrades ties with Qatar amid escalating split in Arab world

Also closing Al-Jazeera, Amman follows lead of 4 major Sunni countries which severed relations with Gulf state over its support for terror

A general view of boats sitting in the port along the corniche in Qatar's capital Doha on June 5, 2017. (AFP Photo/STR)
A general view of boats sitting in the port along the corniche in Qatar's capital Doha on June 5, 2017. (AFP Photo/STR)

Jordan announced on Tuesday that it is scaling back its diplomatic ties with Qatar and that it will close the local office of the Gulf nation’s Al-Jazeera TV channel.

Tuesday’s decision came a day after Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar. The four nations alleged that Qatar harbors extremists and backs Saudi Arabia’s regional rival, Iran. Qatar has denied the allegations.

Several nations followed suit including the Maldives, Mauritius, Mauritania and the Yemeni government.

Saudi Arabia is a key financial backer of Jordan.

Jordanian government spokesman Mohammed Momani said in a statement that the decision was made to ensure regional stability, coordinate the policies of Arab countries and “end the crises in our region.”

Earlier Tuesday, Qatar’s foreign minister said Kuwait was trying to mediate the Gulf crisis between Qatar and its Arab neighbors.

The biggest diplomatic crisis in the Persian Gulf since the 1991 US-led war against Iraq pits several nations against Qatar, which is home to some 10,000 American troops and a major US military base. Airlines suspended flights and residents nervous about the peninsula’s lone land border closing cleaned out grocery store shelves.

The move came just two weeks after Trump visited Saudi Arabia and vowed to improve ties with both Riyadh and Cairo to combat terrorism and contain Iran.

Qatar long has denied funding extremists, though Western officials have accused it of allowing or even encouraging funding of Sunni extremists like al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, once known as the Nusra Front.

The Gulf countries ordered their citizens out of Qatar and gave Qataris abroad 14 days to return home to their peninsular nation, whose only land border is with Saudi Arabia. The countries also said they would eject Qatar’s diplomats.

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