US official downplays effect of Gulf rift on extremist fight

Riyadh cut diplomatic relations and closed borders with its neighbour to "protect its national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism", the official Saudi Press Agency said.

Oil prices have risen after a political rift in the Middle East escalated with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates severing ties with Qatar.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday said that Pakistan has no plans to break diplomatic relations with Qatar.

"The campaign of incitement is based on lies that had reached the level of complete fabrications", the Qatari foreign ministry said in a statement.

Saudi Arabia cited Qatar's support of "terrorist groups aiming to destabilize the region", including the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic State and al-Qaida.

Saudi Arabia and Iran are at odds over a number of regional issues, including Iran's nuclear program and what Saudis see as Tehran's growing influence in the kingdom's sphere of influence - especially in Syria, Lebanon and neighboring Yemen.

Saudi Arabia will soon cut all land air and sea contacts with Qatar.

Qatar is the world's largest exporter of liquefied natural gas and has extensive air links with he group of countries that have snapped diplomatic ties.

Last month the website of Qatar's official news agency was allegedly hacked by unknown individuals who reportedly published statements falsely attributed to its emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani.

They included calling Hamas "the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people", as well as saying Qatar had "strong relations" with Iran and the United States.Further said "Iran represents a regional and Islamic power that can not be ignored and it is unwise to face up against it", the ticker read at one point. Flights on Monday would operate as scheduled, it added.

In late May, a UAE minister expressed concerns over the recent spat between GCC countries and said the region is going through a "severe" crisis.

Qatari residents have two weeks to leave the countries, while flights from the Abu Dhabi state-backed Etihad Airways to Doha will be suspended from Tuesday morning "until further notice".

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters in Sydney on Monday that the spat would not effect the fight against Islamist militants and that Washington has encouraged its Gulf allies to resolve their differences.

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways said the last flight from Abu Dhabi to Doha will depart as EY399 at 2.45am (local time) on June 6.

The Brotherhood, which has been outlawed in Egypt, is labeled a terrorist organization in the UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and UAE are the countries that will soon be withdrawing diplomatic missions from Qatar.

  • Zachary Reyes