Saudi Arabia's feud with Qatar has 22-year history rooted in gas

Doha, June 6:Kuwait is trying to mediate a diplomatic crisis in which Arab countries have cut diplomatic ties to Qatar and moved to isolate the energy-rich, travel-hub nation from the outside world, Qatar's foreign minister said on Tuesday.

Several airlines from those countries earlier announced they would no longer fly to Qatar.

Hundreds of Pakistanis were left stranded at Doha airport after Saudi Arabia banned all flights from Qatar Airways into its airspace following the diplomatic disruption in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with Qatar on Monday, accusing it of supporting terrorism and backing Iran.

Jet Airways and IndiGo today said their flights to Doha are operating as per schedule, amid some Arab states severing their diplomatic ties with Qatar - a development that could also result in airspace restrictions over the Gulf region.

Qatar blamed Egypt for coordinating the severance of ties and said the other countries' goal is "the imposition of guardianship over the State".

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain on Monday asked Qatari diplomats to leave their countries within 48 hours and Qatari citizens within 14 days.

Qatar Airways has already said it is cancelling its services to Saudi.

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. Demands made now of Qatar are similarly hazy, but some version of this scenario could recur - or both sides could dig their heels in further amid a wider Saud-Iran power struggle. The UAE measures are taken as well based on Qatari authorities' hosting of terrorist elements and meddling in the affairs of other countries as well as their support of terror groups - policies which are likely to push the region into a stage of unpredictable consequences.

The second reason is that the ability to play the middleman and to be at the center of regional power struggles and peace talks allows Qatar to punch above its weight in worldwide affairs and regional politics.

Nervousness over the situation left Qatar's main share index more than 7% lower on Monday.

As David notes, "the biggest US air base in the Middle East is in Qatar, while the Navy's fifth fleet is based in Bahrain". Qatar's Al Udeid Air Base hosts 11,000 American personnel and is one of Washington's largest military bases in the Middle East. "This by itself is a violation of its [Qatar's] sovereignty as a state".

However, many people are calling Saudi Arabia a hypocrite as it has also been accused of funding ISIS, either directly or by failing to stop private donors from ending money to the group.

FIFA, global soccer's governing body, said it remained in regular contact with Qatar, saying it spoke with local organizers of the 2022 World Cup.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has called on the parties to sit down and address their differences, though he does not believe the crisis will affect the war against the Islamic State. It is to be seen whether Saudi Arabia has overplayed its hand.

  • Zachary Reyes