United States seen trying to calm waters between Qatar and Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain severed their ties with Qatar on Monday, opening up the worst rift in years among some of the most powerful states in the Arab world.

The airline said passengers holding a confirmed Qatar Airways ticket to any of the four countries between June 5 and July 6 are permitted to rebook their flights up to 30 days after their current departure date.

Several of the carriers took to social media to highlight the changes, with both Etihad Airways and Saudia announcing on Twitter the suspension of all services to Qatar until further notice.

Saudi Arabia and three Arab countries severed ties to Qatar yesterday and moved to cut off land, sea and air routes to the energy-rich nation that is home to a major USA military base, accusing it of supporting regional terror groups.

The diplomatic broadside threatens the worldwide prestige of Qatar, home to a large United States military base and set to host the 2022 World Cup. Qatar is host to the largest USA air base in the Middle East at Al Udeid, a staging ground for US -led strikes on the Islamic State militant group that has seized parts of Syria and Iraq.

Neighboring Kuwait has been mediating in the dispute, and its emir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, urged Qatar's ruler to calm tensions and refrain from escalating the rift, Kuwait state news agency Kuna said.

Saudi Arabia said it took the decision to cut diplomatic ties due to Qatar's "embrace of various terrorist and sectarian groups aimed at destabilising the region" including the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaida, the Islamic State group and groups supported by Iran in the kingdom's restive Eastern Province.

Analysts say President Donald Trump's recent visit to Saudi Arabia emboldened hawkish Saudi royals by positioning America squarely with Sunni Arab countries against Iran.

It was not immediately clear if Qatar Airways would also suspend flights to other countries.

Last weekend, in an attempt to placate the Saudis, Qatar reportedly ordered several leaders of Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group that has ties to Iran, to leave the country.

Kuwait and Oman were among a handful of states that did not join the move to isolate Qatar and Iran, Saudi Arabia's arch-rival.

In a major diplomatic crisis in the Arab region, many countries cut their ties with Qatar blaming the latter of extending support to extremists.

All the nations also said they planned to cut air and sea traffic.

While Iran leads "a very disciplined and solid coalition which it controls with a great deal of authority, on the other side, there's this very disparate group of opponents who in many cases don't have diplomatic relations with each other", Ibish said.

  • Leroy Wright