Tension in the Gulf: How the Arab world and global leaders reacted

Russia, Turkey and India all call for calm as crisis deepens

Riyadh has ordered its nationals to leave Qatar within the next 14 days (AFP)
Mohammad Ayesh's picture
Last update: 
Monday 5 June 2017 15:46 UTC

Arabic commentators, politicians and activists have responded to the breakdown in relations between Qatar and other Gulf states by calling for Arab unity, seeing ulterior motives - and blaming US President Donald Trump.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain all cut their ties with Qatar on Monday. The ramifications included expelling the Gulf state from the coalition fighting the war in Yemen. Riyadh ordered its nationals to leave Qatar within 14 days and barred Qataris from the kingdom. Flights from Qatar will no longer be able to fly over the Arabian peninsula.

Blame Trump

Iranian diplomat Hamid Aboutalebi put the blame on Donald Trump’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia where he attended an Arab summit of leaders:

Translation: What is happening today is the result of Trump dancing in Riyadh

It was a view echoed by Palestinian Adham Abu Selmia :

Translation: Which kind of wine did Arab leaders drink with Trump, which made them rampage like crazy people, fighting against each one other after he left.

Fears of escalation

Mohammad Mukhtar Alshanqeety, a writer and journalist based in Qatar, warned of the wider strategic risks to the region:

Translation: Who cuts their ties with Qatar will understand later their mistake, because they are leaving the Gulf strategically exposed at this dangerous moment.

Others compared the rift to a siege. Nasser Duwailah, a Kuwaiti solicitor and former member of parliament, warned how the conflict could escalate beyond words.

Translation: Land, sea and air sieges are more than cutting diplomatic ties, this is the final stage before war. We call on leaders in the Gulf to save our history and relatives.

Wider motives

Amr Abdulhadi, an Egyptian activist, pinned the blame on the UAE:

Translation: The UAE is trying to dismantle the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] and today is the first step.

Abdullah Al-Athbah, editor of the Alarab newspaper based in Qatar, said:

Translation: The biggest 2 Arab countries want to put Qatar under siege, and they want to choke it. Then some people will say it is a small country.. it is big.

Saed Alhaj, an Arab activist in Turkey, alleged that several of the Gulf states were being hypocritical.

Translation: They call to cut ties with Qatar because it has relation with Iran. But at the same time they have strong ties with Iran. UAE has wide trade with Iran.

Arab unity

Some called for more Arab unity. Feras Abu Helal, a writer based in London, pointed out the poignancy of the row deepening on 5 June - the anniversary of the Six-Day War in 1967, when Israel captured East Jerusalem and other territory.

Translation: On the day of naksa [the Israeli occupation memorial day], Arab has decided to put Arab under siege. meanwhile the USA and China call them to sit and discuss!! Oh shame on us!

Jaber Alharmy, the former editor for the Al-sharq newspaper in Qatar wrote

Translation: There is no single house in Saudi, UAE and Bahrain without links to Qatar. How can you cut these parts from the body?

Turky Shalhoop, a Saudi activist, expressed sadness for those Qataris in Saudi...

Translation: Giving a time limit for the Qatari people to leave is very regrettable, and this is irregular. Even the  Iranian people did not face this situation in Saudi when ties broke down.

...while Ismael Yasha, a Turkish journalist, compared the situation to that in Turkey during the failed coup of 2016: 

Translation: This is like the failed coup in Turkey, our brothers in Qatar should keep stable and be strong in front of this dirty conspiracy

International reaction

Turkey's foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, said on Monday he was saddened by the rift, and called for dialogue to resolve the dispute.

"We see the stability in the Gulf region as our own unity and solidarity," Cavusoglu told a news conference. "Countries may of course have some issues, but dialogue must continue under every circumstance for problems to be resolved peacefully. We are saddened by the current picture and will give any support for its normalisation."

'Dialogue must continue under every circumstance for problems to be resolved peacefully'

- Turkey Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu 

Iran called on Qatar, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states to resolve disputes through diplomacy and said any heightened tension would not help to resolve the crisis in the Middle East, state TV said.

"To resolve regional disputes and the current dispute, they should adopt peaceful methods, transparent dialogue and diplomacy," foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said. "No country in the region will benefit from the heightened tension."

A senior Iranian official said on Monday the decision by some Gulf Arab states and Egypt to sever diplomatic ties with Qatar would not help end the crisis in the Middle East.

The Kremlin said that it was in Russia's interests to have a "stable and peaceful" situation in the Gulf.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a conference call with reporters that Moscow hoped the rift would not affect "the common determination and resolve" in the joint fight against "international terrorism".

What south Asia is saying

Pakistan has no immediate plans to cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, a spokesman for the South Asian nation's foreign ministry said.

The country "has no such plans," the spokesman, Nafees Zakaria, said, following Monday's surprise severing of ties with Qatar by Islamabad's key ally, Saudi Arabia, and three other Middle East nations.

'Our only concern is about Indians there. We are trying to find out if any Indians are stuck there'

- India Foreign Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj 

"At the moment there is nothing on Qatar issue; (we) will issue a statement if some development takes place," Zakaria said.

Pakistan, which has a significant Shia Muslim population, has in recent years been caught between the feud among its Sunni ally, Saudi Arabia, and Shia-majority neighbour Iran. 

Likewise, India said it not be impacted, Foreign Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Monday: "There is no challenge arising out of this for us. This is an internal matter of GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council). Our only concern is about Indians there. We are trying to find out if any Indians are stuck there," she told reporters.