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World’s “Worst Famine In 100 Years” Will Hit Yemen, U.N. Warns

For a Saudi and Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) update that’s not directly related to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a United Nations official on Sunday warned Yemen is now facing what could be “the worst famine in the world in 100 years” which is set to put “12-13 million innocent civilians at risk of starving,” according to the BBC.

Yemen’s war, which has involved intense Saudi-UAE-US coordinated airstrikes on civilian population centers going back to 2015 has been popularly dubbed “the forgotten war” due to its general absence from headlines and front page stories over the years.

As a few analysts and war reporters have pointed out in recent days, it took the murder of one Washington Post contributor who was one of the mainstream media’s own — for MbS to actually face any level of scrutiny, and yet the tens of thousands killed under Saudi coalition bombs is still largely taboo for the same mainstream to touch.

Saudi-led coalition airstrike on an arms depot in Sanaa in 2015. Image source: AFP

A top United Nations official who monitors Yemen, Lise Grande, told the BBC: “We predict that we could be looking at 12 to 13 million innocent civilians who are at risk of dying from the lack of food.”

She explained, “I think many of us felt as we went into the 21st century that is was unthinkable that we could see a famine like saw in Ethiopia, that we saw in Bengal, that we saw in parts of the Soviet Union, that was just unacceptable. Many of us had the confidence that that would never happen again and yet the reality is that in Yemen that is precisely what we are looking at.”

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Fragility of Middle East alliances becomes ever more apparent

Fragility of Middle East alliances becomes ever more apparent

Three recent developments lay bare the fragility of Middle Eastern alliances and a rebalancing of their priorities: the Russian-Turkish compromise on an assault on the rebel-held Syrian region of Idlib, the fate of troubled Abu Dhabi airline Ettihad, and battles over reconstruction of Syria.

These developments highlight the fact that competition among Middle Eastern rivals and ultimate power within the region’s various alliances is increasingly as much economic and commercial as it is military and geopolitical. Battles are fought as much on geopolitical fronts as they are on economic and cultural battlefields such as soccer.

As a result, the fault lines of various alliances across the greater Middle East, a region that stretches from North Africa to north-western China, are coming to the fore.

The cracks may be most apparent in the Russian-Turkish-Iranian alliance but lurk in the background of Gulf cooperation with Israel in confronting Iran as well as the unified front put forward by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Russia, prevented, at least for now, a rupture with Turkey, by delaying an all-out attack on Idlib despite Iranian advocacy of an offensive. Turkey, already home to three million Syrians, feared that a Syrian-Russian assault, would push hundreds of thousands, if not millions more across its border.

If Iran was the weakest link in the debate about Idlib, it stands stronger in its coming competition with Russia for the spoils of reconstruction of war-ravaged Syria.

Similarly, Russia appears to be ambivalent towards a continued Iranian military presence in post-war Syria, a potential flashpoint given Israel’s opposition and Israeli attacks that led earlier this month to the downing of a Russian aircraft.

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New WikiLeaks Release Exposes Corruption in UAE Arms Deal Fueling War on Yemen

New WikiLeaks Release Exposes Corruption in UAE Arms Deal Fueling War on Yemen

Though the corruption detailed in the newly leaked document took place decades ago, it highlights how lucrative arms deals are often enough incentive for governments to bend the rules in order to keep weapons and cash flowing, no matter the consequences.

Iran Warns Saudis Of “Red Lines” And Threatens US Bases “Will Not Be Safe”

Iran has issued a number of threats on Friday following official charges made by leaders in Tehran that Saudi Arabia and the UAE funded a terrorist attack on a military parade in a southwest district last Saturday which killed 25 people, including members of the elite Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC).

Iranian military officials declared “red lines” against the two Gulf countries, threatening war, while in a separate statement a senior cleric said US regional bases will not be safe if “America does anything wrong”.

“If America does anything wrong, their bases around Iran would not remain secure,” Ayatollah Mohammadali Movahedi Kermani was quoted as saying by Mizan news agency while leading Friday prayers in Tehran.

And simultaneously the Fars news agency quoted Brigadier General Hossein Salami, deputy head of the IRGC, as saying in reference to the Saudis and Emirates: “If you cross our red lines, we will surely cross yours. You know the storm the Iranian nation can create.”

IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami

IRGC Gen. Salami was also addressing the crowd during Friday prayers in Tehran: “Stop creating plots and tensions. You are not invincible. You are sitting in a glass house and cannot tolerate the revenge of the Iranian nation…We have shown self-restraint,” he said in a fiery speech.

Salami didn’t stop at Saudi Arabia and the UAE, but told the United States to “stop supporting the terrorists or they will pay the price”. The elite IRGC has collectively vowed to exact “deadly and unforgettable” vengeance after some of its members were killed in the Ahvaz attack. During the large funeral ceremony for victims of the attack on Monday, Salami had vowed to strike back against the “triangle” of Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States.

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The Saudi and American Way

The Saudi and American Way

The Saudi and American Way

The U.S.-Saudi-UAE “Operation Restoring Hope” has become their plan to bomb the food-supply route that the residents in the Shiite Houthi area of Yemen rely upon in order to receive food, and thereby for the U.S.-Saudi-UAE alliance to win their war against the Houthis — who are Shiites — and to take full control over Yemen, by forcing this Houthi population to either surrender to the Sauds’ strict Sunni rule, or else starve to death. Saudi Arabia, on occasion, bombs its own Shia areas; so, doing it in its neighbor Yemen is no stretch for them. However, the Shiites inside Saudi Arabia aren’t also being starved to death. Starving Shiites to death is something new for Saudi Arabia’s troops. And, therefore, the troops who have this assignment, seem to be, perhaps, squeamish about it; but, in any case, they evidently need some ‘moral’ guidance, in order to do it.

On July 10th, the owner of Saudi Arabia, the royal Saud family (by means of the Crown Prince), issued a proclamation providing absolution in advance for any bloodshed, torture, rape, or anything else, that their troops perpetrate in their “Operation Restoring Hope.” Now, whatever the troops of Saudi Arabia do, to conquer Yemen, has been officially approved in advance. These soldiers won’t need to fear any repercussions against themselves. Whatever they do, is officially okay — it’s been authorized in advance.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Salman al-Saud — who will inherit ownership of Saudi Arabia when the current King Salman al-Saud dies — issued the July 10th decree, and this decree will be presented here, in full.

For some reason, which the decree doesn’t state, this decree was viewed by Prince Salman to be necessary, in order for the U.S.-Saudi-UAE alliance to carry “Operation Restoring Hope” to a successful completion — victory. (“Restoring Hope” to the victors.)

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Yemeni Suffering Made Easy

Yemeni Suffering Made Easy

Photo Source Felton Davis | CC BY 2.0

The Saudi and UAE-led operationto retake the rebel-held port city of Hodeidah, which could jeopardize the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians, represents more than the latest tragic chapter in Yemen’s civil war. It is the fully expected outcome of several Western nations’ complicity in a multi-country assault that has made Yemen the world’s largest humanitarian disaster.

The recent attack on Hodeidah is both a function of Western arms support and a feature of longstanding Western political programming that has sustained the coalition’s attack on the country since a bombing campaign began in 2015.

For the last several years the US, UK, and France have all greenlit arms sales, refueling missions, and special forces guidanceto the coalition with few, if any, conditions. The operation in Hodeidah is no different, where French special forces are already on the ground and the US is providing intelligence and aerial refueling to assist the coalition. Since the beginning of the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen, the results of American, French, and British arms and support have led to the bombing of funerals, weddings, markets, hospitals, schools and other public spaces populated by civilians. The latest bombing of a wedding party (because there have been more than one) killed twenty, including the bride herself.

Some observers equivocate as to whether these destructive acts stem from purposeful targeting or simply the negligent use of sophisticated Western weapons technology, but the frequency with which non-combatants, civilian production capacity, and food supply chains continue to be struck appear deliberate. To assume these attacks are anything but calculated is to stretch the bounds of reasonableness: within the first day of operations in Hodeidah, a Doctors Without Borders treatment facility suffered a coalition missile strike even though the GPS coordinates of the facility had been providedtwelve times and the roof had clear markings to distinguish the building for medical purposes.

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Western Media Whitewash Yemen Genocide

Western Media Whitewash Yemen Genocide

Western Media Whitewash Yemen Genocide

With the United Nations warning that millions of civilians could die from violence or starvation from the ongoing military siege of the Yemeni port city of Hodeida, there is no other way to describe what is happening except as “genocide”.

The more than three-year war on Yemen waged by a Western-backed Saudi coalition has been arguably genocidal from the outset, with up to eight million people facing imminent starvation due to the years-long blockade on the Arabian country, as well as from indiscriminate air strikes.

But the latest offensive on the Red Sea city of Hodeida threatens to turn the world’s already worst humanitarian disaster into a mass extermination.

Hodeida is the entry point for 90 per cent of all food and medical aid into Yemen. If the city’s port stops functioning from the military offensive – as UN aid agencies are warning – then an entire country population of more than 20 million will, as a result, be on the brink of death.

The Saudi coalition which includes Emirati forces and foreign mercenaries as well as remnants from the previous regime (which the Western media mendaciously refer to as “government forces”) is fully backed by the US, Britain and France. This coalition says that by taking Hodeida it will hasten the defeat of Houthi rebels. But to use the cutting off of food and other vital aid to civilian populations as a weapon is a blatant war crime. It is absolutely inexcusable.

This past week an emergency session at the UN Security Council made the lily-livered call for the port city to remain open. But it stopped short of demanding an end to the offensive being led by Saudi and Emirati forces against Hodeida, which is the second biggest stronghold for Houthi rebels after the capital Sanaa. The port city’s population of 600,000 is at risk from the heavy fighting underway, including air strikes and naval bombardment, even before food, water and medicines supply is halted.

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The Saudi-UAE Alliance is the Most Dangerous Force in the Middle East Today

The Saudi-UAE Alliance is the Most Dangerous Force in the Middle East Today

The latest: they are bombing a port that accounts for 80 percent of the food and aid trickling into starving Yemen.

Prince Salman meets with officials at the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD/Photo by Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz)

For three years, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have conducted a murderous campaign to reinstall a pliable regime in the desperately poor country of Yemen. This campaign is based on a lie intended to gain American support: that the two authoritarian monarchies are responding to Iranian aggression. Now the UAE is preparing a military offensive that could split Yemen apart and create mass starvation.

The Saudi-Emirati alliance is the most dangerous force in the Middle East today. Sometimes acting alone, but usually in tandem, the two dictatorships have promoted intolerant Wahhabism around the world, backed brutal tyranny in Egypt and Bahrain, supported radical jihadists while helping tear apart Libya and Syria, threatened to attack Qatar while attempting to turn it into a puppet state, and kidnapped the Lebanese premier in an effort to unsettle that nation’s fragile political equilibrium. Worst of all, however, is their ongoing invasion of Yemen.

To demonstrate support for its royal allies, America joined their war on the Yemeni people, acting as chief armorer for both authoritarian monarchies and enriching U.S. arms makers in the process. America’s military has also provided the belligerents with targeting assistance and refueling services. And our Special Forces are on the ground assisting the Saudis.

The result has been both a security and humanitarian crisis. Observed Perry Cammack of the Carnegie Endowment: “By catering to Saudi Arabia in Yemen, the United States has empowered AQAP, strengthened Iranian influence in Yemen, undermined Saudi security, brought Yemen closer to the brink of collapse, and visited more death, destruction, and displacement on the Yemeni population.”

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US Debating Whether To Expand Military Presence In Yemen

As if the US hasn’t already done enough to exacerbate the humanitarian crisis raging in Yemen, the Wall Street Journal  reported Monday that the Trump Administration is considering a request by the United Arab Emirates for “direct US support” as a coalition of Sunni majority nations prepares to seize the country’s biggest port, known as Hodeidah.

WSJ

According to WSJ, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has requested an evaluation of the Sunni coalition’s plan to retake control of the port. And with good reason: That’s because some 90% of the imported goods including foodstuffs, medicine and other vital supplies flow into Yemen through the port. Already, the country is under an extreme humanitarian crisis, and cutting off the flow of supplies through the port could make it infinitely worse.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has asked for a quick assessment of the UAE’s plea for assistance such as surveillance drone flights to help a Saudi-led coalition retake Hodeidah, which currently serves as a vital lifeline for the country’s 29 million residents, U.S. officials said.

U.A.E. and Saudi Arabian officials have assured the U.S. that they won’t try to seize the Red Sea port until they get backing from Washington, American officials said. But there is growing concern in the Trump administration that fighting around the city could spiral out of control and force Washington’s hand. Yemeni fighters backed by the coalition are battling Houthis near the city.

“We continue to have a lot of concerns about a Hodeidah operation,” said one senior U.S. official. “We are not 100% comfortable that, even if the coalition did launch an attack, that they would be able to do it cleanly and avoid a catastrophic incident.”

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America and Its Arab Friends Set Up a New Anti-Iran Alliance

America and Its Arab Friends Set Up a New Anti-Iran Alliance

America and Its Arab Friends Set Up a New Anti-Iran Alliance

The Saudi king has just begun his two-week visit to the US but the first important achievement was seen even before the top-level talks kicked off on March 20. He and President Trump agreed to assemble a Supreme Committee to counter Iran. The UAE is the third member of this action team. Their activities will be coordinated by their national security advisers, with final decisions to be made by the heads of state. The forum will convene monthly to discuss issues of special importance.

This move is widely seen as a sign that President Trump is soon going to recertify the Iran nuclear deal, even if such a decision will mean defying some of his top military leaders. The deadline for recertification is mid-May but the president may make an announcement much earlier.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who has been nominated to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, favors a tough approach to Iran. The nominee is the right man to improve cooperation with Saudi Arabia and the UAE aimed at forcing a rollback of Iran. Once he takes over the US is expected to move further into Saudi Arabia’s corner.

Congress has approved $54 billion in arms sales to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) over the past nine months. Multibillion-dollar commercial deals are being discussed as part of Crown Prince Mohammed’s US visit. On March 20, the Senate supported President Trump and rejected a measure aimed at ending support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen.

The idea of an alliance of Muslim countries against Iran is not anything new, but until now nothing had ever come to fruition. Riyadh officially heads the alliance established in December 2015. But today that project seems to have been forgotten. A previous attempt to form an anti-Iran alliance on the basis of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) was frustrated when Qatar and Oman refused to follow the policy dictated by Riyadh. The KSA-UAE alliance was set up last December. Now the US has joined to expand it.

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Is Sweden complicit in war crimes in Yemen?

Is Sweden complicit in war crimes in Yemen?

Despite the documented crimes of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, Sweden continues to sell arms to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

A Yemeni man inspects the damage caused by an alleged Saudi-led air strike in Sanaa, Yemen, 04 February 2018. Picture by Hani Al-Ansi/DPA/PA Images. All rights reserved. Despite Sweden leading a few special UN sessions in response to the acute humanitarian crisis in Yemen, it still has not demonstrated a political appetite to stop its arms sales to the most active warring parties in the Yemen war: Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The Swedish parliament is due to discussits governmental policies on Swedish arms exports, on the 28th of February – and anti-militarization Swedish groups are demanding that Sweden halts all its arms sales to both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Human rights groups have documented serious attacks committed by both the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthis

In the course of the ongoing war in Yemen human rights groups have documented serious attacks committed by both the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthis against civilian sites. These attacks appear to have violated international humanitarian law and may constitute war crimes. While the Houthis grew their military power ever since they overtook Sana’a on September 2014, with the support of Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Saudi-led coalition’s military activities in Yemen were only possible because of their weapon supplies from several western countries – including Sweden.

The Yemen Data Project reveals that since 2015, nearly one-third of Saudi air raids hit non-military sites; such as schools, hospitals, weddings, funerals among many other civilian targets. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have both documented dozens of unlawful coalition airstrikes, some of which may amount to war crimes.

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How regional rivalries threaten to fuel the fire in Syria and Iran

Credit: Wikimedia 

Turkish allegations of Saudi, Emirati and Egyptian support for the outlawed Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) threaten to turn Turkey’s military offensive against Syrian Kurds aligned with the PKK into a regional imbroglio.

The threat is magnified by Iranian assertions that low-intensity warfare is heating up in areas of the Islamic republic populated by ethnic minorities, including the Kurds in the northwest and the Baloch on the border with Pakistan.

Taken together, the two developments raise the spectre of a potentially debilitating escalation of the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran as well as an aggravation of the eight-month-old Gulf crisis that has pitted Saudi Arabia and its allies against Qatar, which has forged close ties to Turkey.

The United Arab Emirates and Egypt rather than Saudi Arabia have taken the lead in criticizing Turkey’s incursion into Syria designed to remove US-backed Kurds from the countries’ border and create a 30-kilometer deep buffer zone.

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said the incursion by a non-Arab state signalled that Arab states would be marginalized if they failed to develop a national security strategy.

Egypt, for its part, condemned the incursion as a “fresh violation of Syrian sovereignty” that was intended to “undermine the existing efforts for political solutions and counter-terrorism efforts in Syria,”

Despite Saudi silence, Yeni Safak, a newspaper closely aligned with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), charged that a $1 billion Saudi contribution to the reconstruction of Raqqa, the now Syrian Kurdish-controlled former capital of the Islamic State, was evidence of the kingdom’s involvement in what it termed a “dirty game.”

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Middle East Tensions Near Boiling Point

Middle East Tensions Near Boiling Point

GCC meeting

The 38th Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit resulted in a showdown between Qatar and its Saud-led alliance counterparts.

Saudi King Salman decided to send a lower diplomatic delegation in his place, chipping away at the stability in the region. Additionally, in an unexpected move, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced that the two countries have formed a new economic and military partnership, separate from the GCC. Arab analysts have already indicated that this could deal a deadly blow to the role of the GCC.

Officially, the decision made by UAE’s ruler Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nayhan and the Saudi King is not linked to the ongoing Qatar crisis. However, the symbiosis currently showing between Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman and Abu Dhabi’s crown prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed is the main force behind this bilateral cooperation agreement.

The direct impact wasn’t clear within the first few hours of the GCC meeting. Analysts speculated how the news of the fresh Saudi-Emirati military and economic cooperation would impact the six-member GCC meeting. Until the new alliance was announced, the media was primarily focused on the ongoing Qatar crisis, especially due to the fact that the Qatari Emir was in attendance. Insiders, however, already expected that the new agreement would have a detrimental effect on the GCC meeting, given the impact of the council’s two main supporters decided to create their own military, political, and economic alliance.

Riyadh and Abu Dhabi have clearly been paving the way for a confrontation with Iran and Qatar for several months, while also setting up major economic projects in their own countries as they coordinate military operations in Yemen, Syria and Libya. Two weeks ago, Emirati analysts indicated that the UAE would take a primary role in regional conflicts, which has now come to the surface more clearly.

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Leaked Documents Expose Stunning Plan to Wage Financial War on Qatar–And Steal the World Cup

Yousef Al Otaiba, UAE Ambassador to the United States, talks during a news conference  on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012 in Grapevine, Texas.  The arrival of Emirates first flight from Dubai International Airport (DXB) to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW).  The service marks DFW Airport’s first commercial non-stop flight to the Middle East.   (AP Photo/The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Max Faulkner)  MAGS OUT
Photo: Max Faulkner/The Fort Worth Star-Telegram/AP

A PLAN FOR the United Arab Emirates to wage financial war against its Gulf rival Qatar was found in the task folder of an email account belonging to UAE Ambassador to the United States Yousef al-Otaiba and subsequently obtained by The Intercept.

The economic warfare involved an attack on Qatar’s currency using bond and derivatives manipulation. The plan, laid out in a slide deck provided to The Intercept through the group Global Leaks, was aimed at tanking Qatar’s economy, according to documents drawn up by a bank outlining the strategy.

The outline, prepared by Banque Havilland, a private Luxembourg-based bank owned by the family of controversial British financier David Rowland, laid out a scheme to drive down the value of Qatar’s bonds and increase the cost of insuring them, with the ultimate goal of creating a currency crisis that would drain the country’s cash reserves.

Screen-Shot-2017-10-19-at-10.50.08-AM-copy-1508424743

A screenshot of Ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba’s Outlook Tasks.

Photo: Global Leaks

Rowland has long had close relationships with UAE leadership, particularly with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, known as MBZ. The bank is currently in the process of creating a new financial institution in cooperation with the UAE’s sovereign wealth fund, Mubadala, according to contracts and correspondence obtained by The Intercept outlining the terms of the deal. That project is separate from the Qatar operation, but it reflects the close relationship between the bank and the UAE.

The Qatar debt project would be grandiose in its ambitions. “Control the yield curve, decide the future,” reads the planning document, referring to a standard financial-industry graph showing a country’s borrowing costs for debt that is due at different dates.

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It’s A “Geopolitical Earthquake”: A Stunned World Responds After Saudi Alliance Cuts All Ties With Qatar

It’s A “Geopolitical Earthquake”: A Stunned World Responds After Saudi Alliance Cuts All Ties With Qatar

Virtually nobody saw it coming.

Late on Sunday night, the Saudi-led alliance of Gulf Arab states, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain including Egypt, shocked the world when they announced they had severed ties and closed borders with one of the Gulf’s wealthiest, if smallest, neighbors Qatar, a (now former) member of the Gulf Cooperation Council in what we called a “geopolitical earthquake” and what Bloomberg dubbed an unprecedented move designed to punish one of the region’s financial superpowers for its ties with Iran and Islamist groups in the region.”

As we noted first last night, just days after president Trump left the region, a “geopolitical earthquake” took place in the Middle East as the rift between Qatar and other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council exploded with Bahrain, UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt cutting all diplomatic ties with Qatar accusing it of “spreading chaos,” by funding terrorism and supporting Iran. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt all said they will suspend air and sea travel to and from the Gulf emirate. Saudi Arabia will also shut land crossings with its neighbor, potentially depriving the emirate of imports through its only land border.

It was not immediately clear when the proposed measures would be implemented. Saudi Arabia said it would “begin immediate legal measures with friendly, sisterly countries and international companies to implement that measure as quickly as possible for all types of transit from and to the state of Qatar.”

Saudi Arabia cited Qatar’s support of “terrorist groups aiming to destabilize the region,” including the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic State and al-Qaeda. It accused Qatar of supporting “Iranian-backed terrorist groups” operating in the kingdom’s eastern province as well as Bahrain.  Saudi Arabia, along with Bahrain and the U.A.E., gave Qatari diplomats 48 hours to leave.


Donald Trump meets Qatar’s ruler Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani in Riyadh in May

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