Qatar, the world's second largest helium producer, closed its two helium production plants. (June 13, 2017)
Qatar, the world's second largest helium producer, closed its two helium production plants. (June 13, 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 with 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 air space 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 (Read more here). Al Jazeera on June 8 reported a massive cross-platform cyberattack.

Here are the latest developments in the crisis:

June 14, Wednesday

UN's chief warns Gulf states to respect rights in Qatar row

The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain appear to be violating people's human rights by threatening to jail or fine them for expressing sympathy for Qatar, UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al Hussein said.

Those states, as well as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, have broken off diplomatic and economic relations with Qatar but must respect citizens' rights, he said.

"It is becoming clear that the measures being adopted are overly broad in scope and implementation, and have the potential to seriously disrupt the lives of thousands of women, children and men, simply because they belong to one of the nationalities involved in the dispute," Hussein said in a statement.

Qatar withdraws troops from Djibouti-Eritrea border mission

Qatar has withdrawn its troops from the border between Djibouti and Eritrea, where the Gulf state has been acting as a mediator in a border dispute, the Qatari Foreign Ministry said.

It did not give any reason for the withdrawal and did not specify the number of troops affected.

"Qatar has been an impartial diplomatic mediator in resolving crises and disputes between brotherly and friendly countries and will continue to be a major player in the international community," the ministry said in a statement.

Djibouti government has been informed of the withdrawal, the ministry said.

Turkish foreign minister to visit Qatar

Turkey, a strong ally of Qatar, will send its foreign minister to Doha on Wednesday and then if possible to Saudi Arabia in a diplomatic push to help end a bitter feud between the Emirates and a number of other Arab countries.

Earlier on Tuesday Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan denounced the isolation of Qatar as a violation of Islamic values and akin to a "death penalty".

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will meet his Qatari counterpart and the country's emir, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

June 13, Tuesday

UAE says "no military component" to actions against Qatar

The United Arab Emirates ambassador to the US said there was no military component to steps taken by Arab powers against Qatar.

"There is absolutely no military component to anything that we are doing," Ambassador Yousef al Otaiba told reporters in Washington.

"I have spoken and seen US Defense Secretary General Jim Mattis four times in the last week, we've given them our complete assurance that the steps we have taken will not affect in any way Al Udeid base or any operations supporting or regarding the base," Otaiba said.

Putin discusses Qatar crisis with Abu Dhabi's crown prince

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Abu Dhabi's crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahayan, discussed the Qatar crisis in a phone call, the Kremlin said in a statement.

Both of them called for efforts to resolve the crisis, it added.

Iraqi prime minister condemns Gulf's isolation of Qatar

Iraq is opposed to the isolation of Qatar by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab neighbours because it hurts ordinary citizens, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said.

Abadi is due to travel to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday for talks with Saudi King Salman.

"Regimes are not affected by the blockade; the blockade hurts people," Abadi told reporters in Baghdad.

Qatar closes helium plants amid rift with Arab powers

Qatar, the world's second largest helium producer, closed its two helium production plants.

The helium plants operated by RasGas, a subsidiary of state-owned Qatar Petroleum, were shut because Saudi Arabia closed its border with Qatar, blocking overland exports of the gas, a Qatar Petroleum official said.

Phil Kornbluth, head of US-based industry consultants Kornbluth Helium Consulting said his sources had confirmed the closure.

Qatar rift with the Arab States not affecting US military operations

A rift between Qatar and other Arab states is not affecting US military operations, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

"We are watching that very, very closely but we have had good cooperation from all the parties to make sure that we can continue to move freely in and out of Qatar," Joseph Dunford told a US Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

 For more on Tuesday's developments click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies