U.S. intelligence says Russian hackers set off Qatar diplomatic crisis

Bahrain and Egypt severed relations with the small Gulf Arab state on Monday, accusing it of supporting Islamist militants and their arch-adversary Iran - charges Qatar calls baseless.

Qatar also backs the Palestinian political and militant group Hamas and the worldwide Islamist movement the Muslim Brotherhood, which Saudi Arabia and Egypt oppose.

The official said there were enough grain supplies in the market in Qatar to last four weeks and that the government also had large strategic food reserves in Doha, Reuters reported.

S&P Global Ratings on Wednesday cut Qatar's credit rating by one notch to AA- and put it on watch for further downgrades after Gulf Arab states severed ties.

Tensions had been building for years, beginning with Qatar's support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and through the broadcasts of the Pan-Arab news network Al-Jazeera, which Qatar funds.

Its actions are a study in contradictions.

Qatar's longtime links to Iran also worry Saudi leaders.

U.S. President Donald Trump spoke by telephone on Wednesday with Abu Dhabi's crown prince and stressed the importance of unity among Gulf Arab states, which are in the grips of a diplomatic crisis over accusations by some of them that Qatar supports terrorism, the White House said.

But Saudi Arabia has also been accused of destabilizing the region through its intervention in Yemen's civil war, which has exacted a heavy civilian death toll.

The call came a day after Trump appeared to back Saudi Arabia strong-arming the emirate, which is home to 10,000 United States troops.

Referring to his May trip to the region, Trump tweeted that it was "so good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off". It did not say who might have carried out the hack.

But Husseini, who now runs consultancy Husseini Energy, on Wednesday said Trump had focused attention on the risk posed to the Middle East energy industry by a lack of security and stability.

As an important trade partner of Turkey, Qatar has so far invested 2.2 billion US dollars in the transcontinental country, with investments on the rise in the past four years.

"This is them using that mandate to settle some old scores".

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Iranian officials condemned the blockade as the latest instance of the US expanding its influence in the region.

"What is happening is the preliminary result of the sword dance", tweeted Hamid Aboutalebi, deputy chief of staff of Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, referring to news photos of Trump's traditional dance with the Saudi king during last month's Riyadh summit.

  • Zachary Reyes