Egypt closes airspace to Qatari flights as diplomatic rift grows

Lucy Bush
June 6, 2017

A group of Gulf countries led by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the UAE severed diplomatic ties with USA ally Qatar on Monday, accusing the oil-rich country of sponsoring violent extremism and causing regional instability. Three years ago a similar situation took place when Saudi Arabia, UAE and Egypt isolated Qatar, in protest against its support to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

The State of Qatar reiterates its commitment to working with the global community to combat terrorism in all its forms regardless of its source.

But just how many Filipinos in Qatar may be affected by Qatar's diplomatic crisis?

Though sources in the airline maintained that flights to Kerala on Tuesday would be operated as per schedule, uncertainty prevails over the travel of Keralites to Gulf states like the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen, and Egypt.

A general view taken shows boats sitting in the port along the corniche in Doha, Qatar, June 5, 2017.

In response to the severing of diplomatic ties, Qatar said on its official website that all flights to Saudi Arabia from Doha are now suspended.

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The Gulf states banned their citizens from travelling to Qatar and ordered Qatari citizens to leave within 14 days.

Saudi Arabia made the announcement via its state-run Saudi Press Agency early Monday.

Oil prices rose after the moves against Qatar, which is the biggest supplier of liquefied natural gas and a major seller of condensate - a low-density liquid fuel and refining product derived from natural gas.

Riyadh said in a statement its measures were the result of "gross violations committed by authorities in Qatar", accusing Doha of harbouring "terrorist and sectarian groups that aim to destabilise the region including the Muslim Brotherhood, Daesh (IS) and Al-Qaeda". Egypt's Foreign Ministry accused Qatar of taking an "antagonist approach" toward Egypt and said "all attempts to stop it from supporting terrorist groups failed". He explained that the deterioration in relations between OPEC members Qatar and Saudi Arabia could disrupt the cartel-led agreement on production cuts.

"Airspace will be impacted?by flights being re-routed, especially for Qatar Airways who will no longer be allowed to use the expansive airspace of Saudi Arabia on flights to Europe and North America", he said.

Etihad Airways has announced it will suspend all flights into Doha, Qatar, starting this evening, with the last flight departing Abu Dhabi at 9:35 p.m. and the last flight arriving from Doha at 10:50 p.m. A spokesperson added it was unclear if the suspension would be extended.

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More broadly, two key factors drove Monday's decision: Qatar's ties to Islamist groups, and the role of Iran, Saudi Arabia's regional rival.

Over the past two months, scores of articles were published in major United States news outlets, in which their authors accused Qatar of "supporting terrorism and posing a security threat to its neighbors".

The Gulf countries accused gas-rich Qatar of supporting terrorism in the region. "We certainly would encourage the parties to sit down together and address these differences".

"We are friends, we've been friends now for a long time, haven't we?"

Doha denied the comments and said it had been the victim of a "shameful cybercrime".

Bahrain blamed Qatar's "media incitement, support for armed terrorist activities and funding linked to Iranian groups to carry out sabotage and spreading chaos in Bahrain" for its decision.

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In recent weeks, articles in the US press have accused Qatar of such funding, prompting Doha to complain it was the target of a hostile media campaign.

Other reports by Info About Network

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