Arab powers add people, groups with Qatar links to terrorism lists

Responding to questions from lawmakers on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said he expected Gulf Arab states to overcome the crisis given the "strong relations and blood ties" between them.

S&P Global, the worldwide ratings agency, reduced Qatar's credit rating to AA- from AA on Wednesday in the latest fallout from the decision by a group of Middle Eastern countries to cut diplomatic and trade ties, media reports said.

"There will be no shortage of food items and other materials", Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim bin Mohammed Al-Thani said.

"The investigation team confirmed that the hack was carried out using innovative technological methods by exploiting an electronic gap on the website of the Qatar News Agency", the report said.

Qatar's credit quality would decline if tensions with its Gulf neighbours continue for much longer, raising the country's debt ratio and hurting banks' liquidity, Moody's ratings agency said on Thursday. "It is more about preventing things from getting worse", said one diplomat in Kuwait, whose leader was in both the UAE and Qatar on Wednesday for consultations.

Mauritania, a member of the Arab League, severed ties with Qatar on Tuesday - following the lead of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt - while Gabon condemned Doha.

Qatar denies having any ties to extremists. Turkey, like Kuwait, has offered to mediate.

Trump, who had initially backed the measures against Qatar in a tweet, called Sheik Tamim on Wednesday with an offer "to help the parties resolve their differences".

A Qatari official said Trump in the call had "expressed readiness to find a solution to the diplomatic crisis in the Gulf, and stressed his keenness that the Gulf remains stable".

- Saudi Arabian ally Bahrain reiterates its demand for Doha to distance itself from Iran and stop support for "terrorist organisations".

- Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on Wednesday, as the dispute between Gulf powers and Qatar escalates. The agreement did not detail a timeframe or the number of troops.

Iran and Qatar share the world's largest gas field, an offshore site the Iranians call South Pars and the Qataris call the North Dome.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt and Yemen have accused Qatar of supporting regional terror groups, allegations denied by the Qatari government. It provides a haven to anti-Western groups such as the Afghan Taliban, Palestinian Hamas and Algeria´s Islamic Salvation Front.

A senior Emirati official told AFP this week's decision was not aimed at a change of regime in Qatar but to pressure the country to reshape its policy.

"The request for political protection from two non-Arab countries and military protection from one of them could be a new tragic and comic chapter", UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, wrote on Twitter. "We need the world to condemn the aggressors".

The gas-rich emirate's satellite news giant Al-Jazeera has also emerged as a point of contention, and on Thursday the broadcaster said it was battling a major cyber attack.

Sheikh Mohammed said Qatar had never before experienced such hostility.

  • Leroy Wright