Led by Saudi Arabia, several states in the Middle East and Africa have severed ties with Qatar since June 5, accusing the gas-rich Gulf state of supporting terrorism and Iran. Qatar denies the allegations.

The United States and Qatar signed an agreement on combating terrorism and its financing during a visit to Doha by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday, June 11, 2017
The United States and Qatar signed an agreement on combating terrorism and its financing during a visit to Doha by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday, June 11, 2017

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and several other Sunni-majority countries have severed relations with Qatar since June 5, accusing the Gulf state of supporting terrorism based on its ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and the Taliban.

Another point of departure is Qatar's ties with Iran, with whom it shares one of the world's biggest gas fields.

Qatar has denied the accusations and called the collective decision "unjustified." Kuwait, Turkey and the US have all urged a political solution as the bloc isolates Qatar using various ad hoc sanctions, including shutting down their airspace to Qataris and blocking import routes.

The dispute began in May when Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani was reported to have made statements on the state news agency supporting Iran. Doha said the statements were fabricated and disseminated via a hack.

Here are the latest developments in the crisis:

July 12, Wednesday

No breakthrough in Gulf crisis as Tillerson heads back to Qatar

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ended talks with ministers from Saudi Arabia and three Arab allies on Wednesday over how to end a month-long rift with Qatar, but there was no immediate word of any breakthrough.

Tillerson returned to Kuwait, the mediator between the feuding Gulf countries, without making any statement on his talks in the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah. He had signed a US-Qatari accord on terrorism financing on Wednesday, but Qatar's opponents said it fell short of allaying their concerns.

Tillerson begins tough Gulf talks on easing Qatar row

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson began talks with four Arab states on Wednesday in efforts to ease a boycott of Qatar after the countries labelled a US-Qatar terrorism financing accord an inadequate response to their concerns.

Any resolution of the dispute must address all the key issues for Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, including Doha's undermining of regional stability, a senior UAE official said ahead of the talks in Saudi Arabia. His comments shed light on Tillerson's uphill challenge.

Tillerson arrived in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah where he met ministers from the four nations to seek an end to the worst dispute among Gulf Arab states since the formation of their Gulf Cooperation Council regional body in 1981. Kuwait, which is mediating in the dispute and not boycotting Qatar, also sent an envoy.

France's Le Drian to visit Gulf states to help end Qatar crisis

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will visit Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE on July 15-16 as part of efforts to ease tension between those countries his office said in a statement.

"Concerned by current tensions that are affecting these countries with whom we have close and friendly ties, we call for a rapid de-escalation that would be in everyone's interest," the statement said.

The French foreign ministry's statement added that the trip was in line with similar strategies being adopted by the United States, Britain and Germany regarding the Gulf, with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also conducting a visit to the region this week.

July 11, Tuesday

Qatar says more Turkish troops have arrived at military base

Qatar said more Turkish troops had arrived at a military base in Doha after Ankara fast-tracked legislation last month for more soldiers to be deployed there.

Training has been ongoing since June 19. The base in Qatar houses Turkish soldiers under an agreement signed in 2014.

"This defence cooperation between Doha and Ankara is part of their common defence vision to support anti-terrorism efforts and maintain security and stability in the region," a statement by Qatar's Armed Forces said.

The statement did not give the number of Turkish troops at the base or how many had just joined to bolster the deployment.

Four Arab states say sanctions against Qatar still in place

The four Arab states leading the boycott against Qatar said on Tuesday that their sanctions on Doha would remain in place until it meets their demands and they would keep a close eye on the tiny Gulf monarchy's efforts to fight terrorism funding.

In a joint statement released in their state media, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain said they appreciated US efforts in fighting terrorism but that they would closely monitor Qatar's behaviour.

Egypt says Qatar should be kicked out of anti-Daesh coalition

A US-led coalition against Daesh should not have member states that support terrorism, Egypt said in a coalition meeting held in Washington in reference to Qatar.

"It is unacceptable for the coalition to have amongst its member states that support terrorism or advocate for it in their media," said Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid, who is heading the Egyptian delegation in Washington.

"The decision by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain to boycott Qatar, a coalition member, is in accordance with that principle," he said in a statement

Kuwait's Emir feels bitter over Gulf rift, to push ahead with mediation

Kuwait's ruler on Tuesday expressed "bitterness" over what he described as an unprecedented rift in the Gulf, but said he intended to push ahead with mediation efforts, state news agency KUNA reported.

"His Highness the country's Emir Sheikh Sabah al Ahmad al Jaber al Sabah expressed a feeling of bitterness and has been deeply affected by the unprecedented developments that [our Gulf house] is witnessing," the agency said.

He said the positive reaction and support for Kuwait's mediation efforts had strengthened his resolve to deal with the crisis.

For more on previous developments click here.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies