Kuwait trying to mediate and solve diplomatic rift, says Qatar minister

Nick Mcbride
June 6, 2017

The move by the Doha-based carrier came just hours after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Doha over accusations it supports extremism.

The White House said Monday that the United States was committed to de-escalating tensions in the Gulf after some Arab countries made a decision to sever ties with Qatar.

Qatar is an worldwide transport hub used by a host of airlines, and home to the Al Jazeera TV station as well as the future host of the 2022 World Cup football series. It long has denied supporting militant groups and described the crisis as being fuelled by "absolute fabrications" stemming from a recent hack of its state-run news agency.

The Saudi-led coalition battling Iran-backed rebels in Yemen also took part, saying it had expelled Qatar from the group for providing "support to [terrorist] organizations" there.

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

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Washington has encouraged its Gulf allies to resolve their differences.

Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates announced Monday they would cut diplomatic ties.

He believed Qatar would try to solve the problem and remain in contact with other countries.

All the nations also said they planned to cut air and sea traffic.

In an interview on Monday with Al Jazeera, Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said Kuwait's ruler, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, had asked Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Qatar's ruling emir, to hold off on giving a speech about the crisis late on Tuesday night.

A research note from aviation thinktank CAPA - Centre for Aviation said Saudi Arabia was not a signatory to the multilateral "Transit Agreement" and was therefore within its rights to withdraw access to its airspace.

Sudan's foreign ministry also called for dialogue and said the country was "fully ready to undertake all efforts in order to achieve calm and reconciliation that would help serve the interests of the people of the region".

"The Qatari Government will take all necessary measures to ensure this and to thwart attempts to influence and harm the Qatari society and economy", it said.

While companies such as flagship carrier Qatar Airways, which has been aggressive in route expansion within the GCC and beyond, and some of the Qatari banks and corporations with operations and investments in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain, could face difficulties in the future.

For far too long, Qatar has been turning a blind eye to terrorism while inconsistently supporting USA strategic interests. Central Command officials and the Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Qatar has for years presented itself as a mediator and power broker for the region's many disputes, but Egypt and the Gulf Arab states resent Qatar's support for Islamists, especially the Muslim Brotherhood, which they see as a political foe.

Other reports by VgToday

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