Doha (Tasnim) – Qatar said there is “no legitimate justification” for several Arab nations cutting diplomatic ties after Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE and Bahrain announced they would suspend relations with the Persian Gulf state.
The Saudi kingdom made the announcement via its state-run Saudi Press Agency early on Monday, saying it was taking action for what it called the protection of national security.
The news agency released a statement in which it accused Qatar of “harboring a multitude of terrorist and sectarian groups that aim to create instability in the region”.
Reacting to the fallout, Qatar explained that the decision was in “violation of its sovereignty,” vowing to its citizens and the hundreds of thousands of residents that the measures would not affect them, Aljazeera reported.
“The measures are unjustified and are based on claims and allegations that have no basis in fact,” the statement said, adding that the decisions would “not affect the normal lives of citizens and residents”.
“The aim is clear, and it is to impose guardianship on the state. This by itself is a violation of its (Qatar’s) sovereignty as a state,” it added.
Qatar’s foreign ministry made the statement hours after the group’s announcements – but before Libya’s out of mandate Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni, had joined them in saying they too would cut ties.
As part of the measures, Saudi Arabia said it would pull Qatari support from the Yemen war.
Airspace and sea traffic would also be affected, the countries that launched the measures said.
Etihad Airways, the UAE’s national carrier, said it would suspend flights to and from Qatar starting Tuesday. Emirates, a Dubai-based airline, and Fly Dubai, the emirate’s budget airline, quickly followed suit.
It was unclear how other airlines would react.
Saudi Arabia had called on “brotherly” countries to join its measures against Qatar.
Pakistan was the first country to say that it would not sever ties with Doha.
The announcements roiled financial markets, with the price of oil surging and Qatari stocks and shares falling.
“This is the most serious political crisis in the region in years,” said Hashem Ahelbarra, Al Jazeera’s senior Middle East correspondent. “There are two aspects here, political and economic, to put more pressure on Qatar.
“The official statement here in Qatar is basically that they view [the fallout] as part of coordinated effort to further undermine Qatar.
“It will ultimately have to be solved at the diplomatic level.”
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson gave a statement on Monday while on state visit in Australia, urging the Persian Gulf Arab states to stay united.
“We certainly would encourage the parties to sit down together and address these differences,” he said in Sydney.
“If there’s any role that we can play in terms of helping them address those, we think it is important that the (P) GCC ((Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council) remain united.”
Tillerson said despite the impasse, he did not expect it to have “any significant impact, if any impact at all, on the unified fight against terrorism in the region or globally”.
“All of those parties you mentioned have been quite unified in the fight against terrorism and the fight against Daesh (ISIL or ISIS) and have expressed that most recently in the summit in Riyadh,” he added.
A senior Iranian official said the measures by the Arab nations would not help end the crisis in the Middle East.
“The era of cutting diplomatic ties and closing borders … is not a way to resolve crisis … As I said before, aggression and occupation will have no result but instability,” Hamid Aboutalebi, deputy chief of staff of Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, tweeted, referring to the coalition’s involvement in Yemen.
The dispute between Qatar and the Persian Gulf’s Arab countries escalated after a recent hack of Qatar’s state-run news agency. It has spiralled since.
Following the hacking on Tuesday, comments falsely attributed to Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, were broadcast in Qatar.
“There are international laws governing such crimes, especially the cyber-attack. [The hackers] will be prosecuted according to the law,” Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Qatar’s foreign minister, said on Wednesday.
UAE-based Sky News Arabia and Al Arabiya kept running the discredited story, despite the Qatari denials.
This post originally ran on Tasnim News Agency.