Four Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia have severed ties with Qatar accusing it of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and backing Iran.
The countries, including United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, have also closed access to Qatar by sea and air and have given visitors and residents two weeks to leave the country.
The four countries also expelled Qatar in the regional coalition fighting Al-Qaeda in Yemen.
The move is the culmination of a rift that started several years ago but worsened eight months ago with Saudi, Bahrain and the U.A.E recalling their ambassadors from Qatar.
A statement released on Saudi Arabian state controlled news agency, SPA, accused Doha of backing militant groups and spreading violent ideology in a clear reference to Qatar’s state-controlled cable news channel, Al Jazeera.
“(Qatar) embraces multiple terrorist and sectarian groups aimed at disturbing stability in the region, including the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS (Islamic State) and al-Qaeda, and promotes the message and schemes of these groupst through their media constantly,” SPA said.
Similarly, Egypt, Arab’s most populous country, said on its state news agency that Qatar’s policy “threatens Arab national security and sows the seeds of strife and division within Arab societies according to a deliberate plan aimed at the unity and interests of the Arab nation.”
The countries also accuse Qatar of supporting Iranian-backed militias like Hamas and other groups operating in the restive Shi’ite eastern region of Qatif in Saudi Arabia and in Bahrain.
The dispute is expected to have far-reaching implications in the region where the oil rich Gulf countries jostle for influence in war-hit countries like Iraq, Libya and Syria.
The dispute is also expected to have immediate influence on the prices of crude oil. Also, Qatar is due to host the 2022 World Cup.
Qatar Foreign Ministry has said it regrets the decision by the four countries. The ministry said the accusations are baseless and the decision will not affect its citizens and residents based in its country.
Qatar backed the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood government of Mohammed Morsi in Egypt, a move which angered Saudi Arabia which partly financed the military ouster of the Morsi-government. Saudi Arabia labels the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group.
Qatar is also one of the major supporters of the Hamas government in Gaza, Palestine.