Qatar says ready for mediation to ease Gulf rift

The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) will arrange special flights to bring back stranded Pakistanis from Qatar, ARY News reported on Tuesday.

Yesterday, Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates began withdrawing their diplomatic staff from Qatar and regional airlines announced they would suspend service to its capital, Doha.

Hours later, Qatar Airways, which flies to nine cities in Saudi Arabia alone, announced it had suspended all flights to Saudi, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt in the wake of the diplomatic boycott.

The Gulf countries ordered their citizens out of Qatar and gave Qataris overseas 14 days to return home to their peninsular nation, whose only land border is with Saudi Arabia.

Riyadh/Dubai: The US said it will seek to defuse a growing rift between its energy-rich Gulf allies after Saudi Arabia led a drive to isolate Qatar by cutting off air and sea transport and closing the tiny nation's only land border.

The crisis will have wide-ranging consequences, not just for Qatar and its citizens but across the Middle East and for Western interests. Qatar is host to the largest United States air base in the Middle East at Al Udeid, a staging ground for US-led strikes on the ISIS militant group that has seized parts of Syria and Iraq.

Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at futures brokerage AxiTrader, said that the boycott of Qatar meant there was "a real chance" that Opec solidarity surrounding its production cuts may fracture.

Qatar has an independent streak that has often angered its neighbours.

Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies may have felt emboldened by Trump's visit, which saw the new president clearly align United States interests with Riyadh and lash out at Iran.

"Flights to Australia and Asia fly over the UAE and Qatar Airways will be denied access to fly their aircraft over that airspace".

UK-based aviation consultant John Strickland told Al Jazeera the local travel disruptions were "unprecedented".

Some analysts said the pressure may even lead to regime-change in Qatar.

Qatar's foreign ministry called the accusations "baseless" and said they were part of a plan to "impose guardianship on the state, which in itself is a violation of sovereignty".

Qatar wants to give Amir of Kuwait, His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah the ability to "proceed and communicate with the parties to the crisis and to try to contain the issue", Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said in comments to Qatar-based television.

Signs of an impending crisis emerged last month.

The stories quoted him questioning U.S. hostility towards Iran, speaking of "tensions" between Doha and Washington and speculating that Trump might not remain in power for long.

  • Zachary Reyes