Led by Saudi Arabia, several states in the Middle East and Africa have severed ties with Qatar since June 5, accusing it of supporting terrorism and Iran.

The crisis between tiny Qatar and its Arab neighbors is straining the centuries-old cultural and family fabric that binds the energy-rich Gulf states into a common culture, and replacing old taboos with new red lines.
The crisis between tiny Qatar and its Arab neighbors is straining the centuries-old cultural and family fabric that binds the energy-rich Gulf states into a common culture, and replacing old taboos with new red lines. (AP, file photo)

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 (Read more here).

Here are the latest developments in the crisis:

Tuesday, September 19

Qatar emir calls for unconditional dialogue

Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani renewed a call for "unconditional dialogue" to end a political crisis pitting Qatar against four Arab states while US President Donald Trump said he expected the dispute to be resolved quickly.

Speaking from the podium of the 193-member United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, Sheikh Tamim renewed the call "for an unconditional dialogue based on mutual respect for sovereignty."

Separately, Qatar accused Bahrain of abusing a routine fisheries enforcement case to deepen the three-month diplomatic crisis between the emirate and its Gulf neighbours.

"The State of Qatar condemned the statement issued by the Bahraini interior ministry on the detention of 15 Bahraini boats carrying 20 sailors, describing it as a desperate attempt to escalate the ongoing diplomatic dispute," the official QNA news agency reported.

Bahrain accuses Qatar of seizing boats

Bahrain has accused Qatar of illegally seizing three boats with 16 sailors on board, state news agency BNA reported.

Coast Guard Commander Commodore Alaa Siyadi told BNA the boats were seized over the past three days. 

Qatar confirmed it detained fishing boats after they entered its territorial waters illegally, and said the sailors will be released soon.

Siyadi said the seizure raised to 15 the number of boats seized, and the number of sailors in Qatari custody to 20.

"All unauthorised fishing boats receive a warning to leave Qatari waters, and if they are non-compliant, they are referred to the competent authorities," a source at Qatar's interior ministry said. 

"The crew will be released within three days, while the ships will be detained until the court makes a decision."

Monday, September 18

Snapchat bans Al Jazeera's posts in Saudi Arabia

Global image messaging service Snapchat has blocked Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera from its app in Saudi Arabia at the request of Saudi authorities, the company said on Monday. 

"We make an effort to comply with local laws in the countries where we operate," a spokesman for parent company Snap Inc said. 

According to Snap Inc, the Saudi ministry of culture and information found Al Jazeera's Discover Publisher Story channel to be in violation of local laws.

Al Jazeera's Snapchat channel can still be viewed in the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt. 

Sunday, September 17

Qatar to buy 24 jet fighters from UK

Qatar’s defence minister has signed a letter of intent to buy 24 Typhoon jets from British defence group BAE Systems.

“The letter of intent includes the ministry’s intention to purchase 24 modern Typhoon aircraft with all their equipment,” state news agency QNA reported on Sunday.

“This will be the first major defence contract with Qatar, one of the UK’s strategic partners,” Britain’s Ministry of Defence said in a statement, adding that talks over a deal had taken several years.

Neither statement gave the cost of the combat jet deal.

The Eurofighter Typhoon is a joint project between BAE, France’s Airbus and Italy’s Finmeccanica and supports an estimated 40,000 jobs in Britain.

For more on earlier developments click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies