Cipher Brief Expert View: Qatar’s Rift with Arab States Brewing for Years

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Monday morning, several Middle Eastern countries, including Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, Yemen, Libya’s eastern-based government, and the Maldives, announced their intentions to cut diplomatic ties with Qatar within 48 hours. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain gave Qatari citizens two weeks to leave their territory and also banned their citizens from travelling to Qatar. In addition, the Gulf states suspended all flights from Doha, while Saudi Arabia closed off its land border-crossing with Qatar and expelled all Qatari soldiers participating in the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen.

Tensions between Qatar and its neighbors heightened last week after divisive comments attributed to Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani appeared on Qatari news sites. The comments lauded Iran, criticized Saudi Arabia, and outlined Qatar’s support for Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood as well as U.S. designated terrorist groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, al Qaeda, and ISIS. Qatari officials have said that the posted comments were fake and labeled the incident a “shameful cyber crime.”

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