Four Arab nations sever diplomatic ties with Qatar, exposing rift in the region.
Four Arab nations led a diplomatic break with Qatar on Monday, moving swiftly to isolate the small but influential country in a feud that stunned the Middle East and divided a coalition of monarchies that the United States had hoped to rally to fight the Islamic State and counter Iran.
The countries — Gulf Cooperation Council members Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, along with Egypt — released coordinated statements accusing Qatar of supporting terrorist groups and saying that as a result they were cutting links to the country by land, sea and air. Other countries, including Yemen, later joined the four-nation bloc in severing ties with Qatar, which hosts a forward base for the U.S. military’s Central Command and is home to the widely watched Al Jazeera television network.
The feud, the most serious in decades among the Persian Gulf monarchies, has been simmering for years as Qatar has sought to project its influence across the region, including backing the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist fighters in Libya and Syria. But the flaring tensions raised fears of another destabilizing conflict in a region already grappling with three civil wars and jihadist insurgencies on several fronts.
The diplomatic break also complicated U.S. efforts to rally Arab and Muslim leaders to form a united front against Sunni extremists and Iranian influence. That had been the principal reason for President Trump’s visit to Riyadh, the Saudi capital, last month, a trip that the president and his allies had hailed as a success.