It’s the biggest political crisis to hit the Middle East in years.
Qatari nationals are now officially on notice to leave neighboring countries within two weeks after an unprecedented diplomatic freeze of the nation by key allies and neighbors.
A total of nine nations have so far moved to indefinitely sever ties with Qatar — a country of nearly 2.3 million people, mostly foreign workers.
Those inside the country are now contemplating what life might look like under diplomatic isolation — an almost imaginable predicament for a wealthy country, yet one that relies almost solely on imported food.
Qatar has said the justification for the freeze — allegations that it supports terrorism and destabilizes the region — are “unjustified” and “baseless.”
Here’s what you need to know:
The original list of five countries severing ties — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Bahrain and Yemen — has now expanded to nine, with the addition of Mauritius, Mauritania, the Maldives and Libya’s eastern-based government.
— Saudi Arabia has severed all land, sea and air links with Qatar, and the UAE has closed its airports and harbors to Qatari flights and shipping.
— Etihad, Emirates, Fly Dubai and Gulf Air have halted all flights in and out of Doha, the Qatari capital. Qatar Airways says it’s halting flights to Saudi Arabia.
— Qatari diplomats have been given notice to leave their foreign posts.
— Qatari citizens have been told they have 14 days to leave Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE, and those countries also banned their own citizens from entering Qatar.
Gulf allies have repeatedly criticized Qatar for alleged support of the Muslim Brotherhood, a nearly 100-year-old Islamist group considered a terrorist organization by Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Ties cut with Qatar
The UAE accused Qatar of “funding and hosting” the group in its statement announcing the severance of ties. However, analysts say the rift is also driven by the belief that Qatar is too closely aligned with Iran.
The diplomatic crisis came two weeks after Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt blocked several Qatari media outlets — including Al Jazeera — over comments allegedly made by Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
Al Thani reportedly hailed Iran as an “Islamic power” and criticized US President Donald Trump’s policy towards Tehran.
Qatar said the website was hacked — and on June 6, US officials told CNN that US investigators believe Russian hackers were behind it.
US officials said the goal of the Russians appeared to be creation of a rift among the US and its allies.
Saudi Arabia and Iran are at odds over a number of regional issues, including Iran’s nuclear program and what Saudis see as Tehran’s growing influence in the kingdom’s sphere of influence — especially in Syria, Lebanon and neighboring Yemen.
Qatar and Iran share the largest underwater natural gas field in the world. But recent Gulf reports have charged the relationship goes beyond resource management, accusing Qatari officials of meeting with the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.