A major rift between the oil rich Persian Gulf states got much wider Wednesday following the joint decision of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates to withdraw their ambassadors from Qatar. They accused the tiny gas-rich monarchy of seeking their overthrow through its support for Islamists forces throughout the Middle East and its growing ties with Iran.
The countries claim Qatar’s support for terror groups in Gaza, Syria, Egypt, Libya, as well as its efforts to undermine the stability of other Gulf monarchies, constitute severe violations of Gulf Cooperation Council agreements.
In addition to hosting US military forces, Qatar, which sits at the northeast tip of the Arabian peninsula, is the home to the Al Jazeera media empire, owned and by the monarchy, which the three states consider an inflammatory, propaganda mouthpiece for extremists seeking to destabilize the entire region.
Friction between the camps in Gulf has been building since “Arab Spring” uprisings, all heavily supported by Qatar, toppled regimes in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. Qatar was an early backer of extremist Islamist rebel groups competing against more moderate opponents fighting to overthrow the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad.
The joint statement issued from the Saudi capital claimed action was undertaken only after Qatar refused to stop “supporting organizations or individuals that threaten the security and stability of the gulf states through direct security work or through political influence.”
The statement also said that repeated efforts to get Qatar to curb its support of subversive movements throughout the region had all failed.
Anger against Qatar has been rising for years as it its break from GCC positions became both more frequent and more defiant.
Qatar was the first Arab regime to recognize Hamas’ seizure of the Gaza Strip. It also was the key supplier of arms and money to Libyan rebels.
It long provided sanctuary to Egyptian Brotherhood leaders. It also hosts Taliban offices who rebels seeking to oust the US supported Afghan government.
But it is Qatar’s continued support for Egypt’s now re-banned Muslim Brotherhood that has set the Saudis on edge. Al Jazeera continues to broadcast pro-Bortherhood propaganda into Egypt, including the an incendiary prime time program hosted by the radical Egyptian Brotherhood cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi.