On Monday four Arab nations, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates cut diplomatic ties with Qatar. The main reason cited is the country's support for Islamist groups and its relations with Iran. What is the dispute about and also what triggered this entire episode?
It may be recalled that Qatar had in May alleged that hackers had taken over a site of its state-run news. It also alleged that fake comments from its ruling emir were posted about Iran and Israel. The Gulf neighbours reacted with anger and blocked Qatari-based media, including the Doha-based satellite news network Al-Jazeera.
The rift further widened when Qatar's ruling emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, called Iranian President Hasan Rouhani to congratulate him on his re-election.
This had angered Saudi Arabia as it failed in its efforts to get Qatar to fall in line.
The Muslim brotherhood:
Qatar's neighbours have often accused it of supporting Islamists. The case of the Muslim Brotherhood was cited several times. The Muslim Brotherhood, a sunni Islamist political group has been outlawed both by UAE and Saudi Arabia as it challenges hereditary rule.
Further the Saudi led countries also fell out with Qatar over its backing of then Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, a Brotherhood member. In March 2014, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain recalled their ambassadors from Qatar over the rift.
Eight months later, they returned their ambassadors as Qatar forced some Brotherhood members to leave the country and quieted others. However, the 2014 crisis did not see a land and sea blockade as threatened now.
Western officials have accused Qatar of allowing and encouraging funding of groups such as the al-Qaeda in Syria. Further the country also has been accused of funding extremist groups. Qatar has been a financial
In the time since, Qatar repeatedly and strongly denied it funds extremist groups. However, it remains a key financial patron of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and has been the home of exiled Hamas official Khaled Mashaal since 2012.
What Saudi said:
Saudi Arabia said it took the decision due to Qatar's "embrace of various terrorist and sectarian groups aimed at destabilizing the region" including the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaida, the Islamic State group and groups supported by Iran in the kingdom's restive eastern province of Qatif.
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."
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.