Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) severed ties with Qatar on Monday accusing the nation of supporting 'terrorism' and Islamic groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood.
The four countries announced that they would withdraw their respective diplomatic missions from Qatar within the next few days. The nations have also cut off all air and sea movement to the country.
For gas-rich Qatar, which recently won a bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the move is a major diplomatic setback.
Saudi state news agency SPA said Riyadh had closed its borders, severing land, sea and air contact.
The move comes amid a deepening rift between Qatar and the four Gulf Arab nations over alleged links between Qatar and Iran-based terrorist groups.
Qatar had, last month, alleged that hackers had taken over its state-run news agency and published fake comments from its ruling Emir regarding Iran and Israel. The four Gulf nations had then blocked all Qatari-based media, including Al-Jazeera, in response.
Bahrain, the first country to cut ties with Qatar, accused it of backing terrorism 'at all levels' and interfering in its internal affairs. Bahrain also accused Qatari outfits of hacking the Twitter account of its foreign minister.
Bahrain said its diplomatic mission will be withdrawn from Qatari capital Doha within 48 hours and directed all Qatari diplomats to leave Bahrain within by then, after completing of all necessary procedures. The Bahrain News Agency said the country would cut off its airspace, ports and territorial waters to air traffic and shipping between the counties within 24 hours. The government also banned its citizens from travelling to Qatar or staying there. Qatari residents and visitors have been given 14 days to leave the Kingdom.
''Based on the insistence of the State of Qatar to continue to undermine the security and stability of the Kingdom of Bahrain and to interfere in its domestic affairs, as well as on the escalation and incitement of its media and its support to acts of terror and to financing armed groups associated with Iran to carry out subversive attacks and spread chaos in the Kingdom in flagrant violation of all agreements, covenants and principles of international law without any regard to values, law, morals or consideration of the principles of good neighbourliness or pledge to the premises of Gulf relations, and the denial of previous commitments, the Kingdom of Bahrain announces the severing of its diplomatic relations with the State of Qatar in order to preserve its national security,'' Bahrain's state media portal said.
Saudi Arabia said the move to cut off ties with Qatar was initiated to protect its Kingdom from terrorism and extremism. Its official news agency stated it would cut diplomatic and consular relations with Qatar ''proceeding from the exercise of its sovereign right guaranteed by international law and the protection of national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism''.
Saudi Arabia cut all land air and sea contacts with Qatar ''and urges all brotherly countries and companies to do the same.''
Saudi has also said Qatari troops would be expelled from the on-going war in Yemen. The Saudi-led Arab coalition has been involved in the war for the last two years.
Shortly after, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates announced they would be ending diplomatic ties with Qatar, Egypt accused Qatar of backing terrorism groups, while UAE said it is ''destabilising security of the region.'' The Egyptian foreign ministry announced that its airspace and seaports have been sealed off for all Qatari transportation in a bit to ensure 'national security', AP reported.
UAE's state news agency WAM reported that its diplomats have been given 48 hours to leave the country. It cited Qatar's ''support, funding and embrace of terrorist, extremist and sectarian organisations,'' says the AP report.