A short-term rift in the Arab world has surprised Middle East politics as Saudi Arabia and five other Muslim countries cut ties with Qatar over its reported tie with Arab world’s undeclared rival – Iran and extremist groups.
Joint communique by Saudi Arabia, Egypt UAE and Bahrain accused Qatar supporting Islamists and Iran. Yemen and Maldives joined the Saudi effort later.
The Arab state’s action comes two weeks after the US President Donald Trump’s visit to the region that hinted a strengthening relationship between the US and the Arab world; sidelining Iran. US President also urged gulf to drive out extreme forces while buying the Saudi argument that Iran is playing a bad game in the region.
Elaborating the step, Saudi Arabia accused Qatar of backing militants including Sunni extremist groups – Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, Palestine based Hamas and ISIS. Saudi Arabia also blamed Qatar’s influential TV network in the Muslim world – ‘Al Jazeera’ for broadcasting extremist ideology. In 2013, Al Jazeera’s Baher Mohamed, Mohamed Fahmy and Peter Greste were arrested and jailed by Egypt for reporting supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Qatar from the very beginning was accused of holding groups that supports the ISIS. The militia that swept over parts of Iraq and Syria possessed high priced military infrastructure and disciplined military capabilities. Individuals and organizations from several gulf states including Qatar and Saudi were blamed for funding the ISIS.
In reply to the Saudi step, Qatar accused that a campaign is going on to weaken it and denied that it is interfering the affairs of other countries.
Iran came strongly against the new developments. “What is happening is the preliminary result of a sword dance” tweeted Hamid Aboutalebi, the deputy chief of staff of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. He was pointing at the new momentum in the relationship between US and Saudi Arabia, targeting Tehran. In his visit to Riyadh, President Trump and his officials made a traditional sword dance with the House of Saud outside the Murabba Palace.
Commenting over the new developments, Al Jazzeera broadcasted a news on North Field oil filed in the Persian Gulf that need understanding between Qatar and Iran for sharing the resource. The news site was seemingly downplayed accusations over its supportive stance on terrorist groups.