By Luke Cornforth
Saudi Arabia and a host of other Middle Eastern nations, both in the Gulf and in North Africa, have unexpectedly cut ties with Qatar in a row over the increasing backing of rebel and terrorists groups by Qatar across the region.
Saudi officials, emboldened by a meeting with President Trump, announced a severing of all diplomatic ties with Qatar. They have closed their airspace and the border to their neighbours. Officials stated that this move is a bold measure in the tackling of extremism and designed to cut off state funding to extremist groups in the region.
In reality the motives for this action are more complex than that of simply stopping funding terrorists. Rather, this decision was taken as part of the ever increasing rivalry between the Gulf States and Iran. Qatar has recently had better diplomatic relations with Iran, with both sides successfully helping to negotiate ceasefires and evacuations in Syria.
It seems as though this decision was made in order to punish Qatar for their Iranian relations and to discourage other Middle Eastern nations from following suit. It certainly has had a damaging effect on Qatar, with the Stock market tumbling and Qatar airways services being hugely disrupted due to closed airspaces.
In addition, Qataris residing in these countries are being forced to return home and food shortages are expected as Saudi Arabia has closed its sole land border. This will have devastating impacts as 40% of Qatar’s food comes over the Saudi Arabian border. This swift and extreme diplomatic action has left Qatar completely alone and isolated in the region.
Photograph: Aamir md Naeem via flickr