Saudi threatens to block Qatar's land, sea borders

Kingdom says will lay siege to neighbour unless it cuts ties with Brotherhood, closes Al Jazeera, expels think tanks

Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud al-Faisal bin Abdulaziz al-Saud (AFP/Getty Images)

Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud al-Faisal bin Abdulaziz al-Saud (AFP/Getty Images)

Saudi Arabia has threatened to block Qatar by land and sea unless it cuts ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, shuts down broadcaster Al Jazeera and expels local branches of two US think tanks, according to US-based Huffington Post.

The threats were made during a private meeting between the foreign ministers of the six Gulf Cooperation Council states in Riyadh last week - before the kingdom, the UAE and Bahrain withdrew their ambassadors from Doha, a source who was present at the meeting said.

Saudi foreign minister Saud bin Faisal reportedly said only those three requirements would be sufficient to prevent Qatar from "being punished".

Days later the Gulf state was left embarrassed by the departure of ambassadors from the three neighbouring countries historically close to Qatar.

On Friday, Saudi Arabia also declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation, following the same decision taken in Egypt in December.

The two US think tanks targeted are the Brookings Doha Centre and the Rand Qatar Policy Institute, while Al Jazeera has been accused of deliberate bias towards the Muslim Brotherhood in its reporting on the conflict in Egypt as well as playing a significant role in the ousting of leaders in Tunisia and Egypt during the Arab Spring.

Three journalists from Al Jazeera English have been detained since late 2013, accused of joining a terrorist group, aiding a terrorist group, and endangering national security. A fourth journalist, from Al Jazeera Arabic, Abdullah Al Shami has been held for six months and is being tried in a separate case.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE have spent $32bn supporting Egypt's military government post-Brotherhood. Former president Mohamed Morsi was deposed in July last year but there is no real end to the conflict in sight.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar share about 64km of sea and land borders and there have been clashes in the past. The borders were disputed for 35 years and a final agreement was only signed in 2001.

Qatar is not taking the threat of a sea blockade seriously, according to the Huffington Post. But the land border – across which a substantial amount of food and goods flows to the Qatari capital Doha – can be easily closed by the kingdom.

Several Saudi and Emirati journalists also have quit their jobs in Qatari media following calls to do so by their governments.

The diplomatic dispute is unprecedented between the GCC members, who otherwise had been working to form closer economic and security ties.

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Posted by: DNS

Okay, so now the GCC members are going to start having disagreements. Already Bahrainis are quite upset that Saudi and UAE have troops in their country.

Posted by: SA1

@Telcoguy - there had been territorial disputes even within emirates and got resolved much later after the formation of UAE.

But no one is going to war on such "kindergarten arguments" and thats why such disputes cannot be overblown to say the relationship is not brotherly.

Early disputes were not in news, and with recent access to media it is now much easier to get the feeds.

Most of the small GCC states does not have a colorful modern history like of US or Europe, so it is perfectly normal if many citizens are not aware of such small disputes.

Posted by: Mohamed

Not True! This is only announced by Egyptian Media! and the west as picked it up as News. The relations are stable now and not getting worse.

Posted by: Mustafa

How hypocritical this is! The Saudi leaders claim that they are the custodians of the two Holy Mosques of Islam and at the same time work against Muslim Brotherhood and an elected government in Egypt in favour of a military regime who came into power through a coup! This is only to keep themselves in power whereas they miserably fail to take care of their own citizens despite being the world's largest oil producing country!!! What a joke!!!

Posted by: Nilesh Tendulkar

Totally unfair and uncalled for. The world knows Qatar is a great country who never interfere in others affair. It has always held all its neighboring brotherly states in highest esteem and respect their integrity. Its humanitarian work is unmatchable. And the threat to close down a free and fair media like Al Jazeera is intolerable and beyond sane justification.

Posted by: Telcoguy

@David, I am replying to Nilesh claim that Qatar "ever interfere in others affair. "
I will be more than happy for you to open Pandora's box

Posted by: procan

SA1 yes we have much wilderness, with the worlds 10th largest economy soon to be 2 Trillon $ per year . 23 Noble awards Founding member of the G7.
Bit of a back water I guess. Freedom is something the West allows Al Jazeera (Qatar) to have here in North America but will not give to its own people. For heaven sake I could not even have a conversation with a young women in a sidewalk caf� with out scandal or arrest. You have not read a Toronto News papers there 4 Majors that slam the elected Government everyday, something you will never have. The only thing Sudan wants from the west is hand outs. Been there done that.

Posted by: David Shaw

Telcoguy from UAE, before accusing others look whats happening in your own backyard - dont let us open UAE's pandora box please

Posted by: SA1

@procan - not the world of canada wilderness.

The world is quite big if you know, and many countries have very good relations with Qatar.

As for press freedom, what you have in west is just a feel good press, which is free to report anything as long as it serves the govt propoganda.

Just an example few years back Darfur was so much in news and Sudan was portrayed in bad by west media, now all the conflict and suffering but still hardly any coverage of South Sudan.

Posted by: Ahmed

On one hand Saudi is banning Muslim Brotherhood and labeling them as terrorist, which infact is a grass-root organization for Political change (and hence a treat to Autocracies)

On other hand Saudi is funding Al Nusra in Syria (which by most definition is a militant org) and arming them to the teeth.

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