Qatar says it faces campaign of lies, denies interfering

Ross Kinnaird

Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates made no demands of Qatar as their decision plunged the Global travel hub into chaos and ignited the biggest diplomatic crisis in the Gulf since the 1991 war against Iraq.

Qatar also says the decision is a "violation of its sovereignty", vowing to its citizens it won't affect them. Its internationally recognised government cut relations with Qatar and said it supported the decision by the Saudi-led coalition to end Qatar's participation in the war on the Houthis there.

Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad were among 10 airlines on which the Trump administration imposed tough new restrictions in March. It has spiralled since.

Oil prices have risen sharply after four Middle Eastern countries led by Saudi Arabia cut off diplomatic ties to Qatar, with the Saudi border to Qatar closed.

Gas-rich nation Qatar is scheduled to host 2022 FIFA World Cup and is home to a major United States military base.

In addition, Qatar will no longer involve military operations in Yemen due to the possible support of terrorists. Central Command officials and the Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Qatar's government claimed its official websites had been hacked and categorically denied in which the country's leader expressed support for Iran. Other countries issued similar statements.

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Egypt, the Arab world's most populous nation, said on its state news agency that Qatar's policy "threatens Arab national security and sows the seeds of strife and division within Arab societies according to a deliberate plan aimed at the unity and interests of the Arab nation".

Flights to Australia and Asia are expected to be severely disrupted as they fly over the UAE and will now require lengthy diversions over Iran, which will make some unviable, while others will lose passenger capacity.

"If there is any role that we can play in terms of helping them address those, we think it is important that the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) remain unified", Tillerson said in televised remarks from Sydney.

Saudi Arabia had chose to sever diplomatic and consular relations with Qatar "proceeding from the exercise of its sovereign right guaranteed by global law and the protection of national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism", the report said.

Announcing the closure of transport ties with Qatar, the four Gulf states and Egypt gave Qatari visitors and residents two weeks to leave their countries.

However, the 2014 escalation was far less severe than the current rift, as it did not see a land and sea blockade, or the expulsion of Qatari citizens from its neighbors' territories.

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