The crisis in Qatar is being watched with bated breath all across the world. Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates have stepped up pressure on Qatar, insisting that diplomatic and economic relations could only be restored until Qatar breaks all links with the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Iran. Indian expats based in Qatar are also worried about the deteriorating situation and are praying that the situation may normalise soon.
Adel al-Jubeir, Saudi foreign minister, who is due in Berlin for talks with his German counterpart today, said, “ It was up to Qatar, which denies funding extremist groups, to take action to relieve a block on air, sea and land links with its neighbours.
Talking to reporters, the foreign minister said, “Nobody wants to hurt Qatar. It has to choose whether it must move in one direction or another direction. We took this step with great pain so that it understands that these policies are not sustainable and must change.”
“We want to see Qatar implement the promises it made a few years back with regard to its support of extremist groups, to its hostile media and interference in affairs of other countries.”
However, Anwar Gargash, UAE foreign minister threatened more curbs if necessary and said Qatar needed to make “iron-clad” commitments to change policies on funding militants.
The country also threatened anyone publishing expressions of sympathy towards Qatar with up to 15 years in prison and fine upto AED500,000.
UAE attorney general, Hamad Saif al-Shamsi, said, “Strict and firm action will be taken against anyone who shows sympathy or any form of bias towards Qatar, or against anyone who objects to the position of the United Arab Emirates, whether it be through the means of social media or any type of written, visual or verbal form.”
Qatar Airways offices shut down in UAE
Meanwhile, UAE General Civil Aviation Authority has announced it will shut down all Qatar Airways offices in the country.
Issuing a statement today, the authority said, “The UAE General Civil Aviation Authority has taken the decision to close all offices of Qatar Airways in the United Arab Emirates with immediate effect.”
This decision has come a day after Saudi Arabia's General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) revoked the license of Qatar Airways and ordered its offices to be closed within 48 hours. Bahrain also revoked Qatar Airways' licence on Tuesday, and ordered its offices to be shut within 48 hours.
Exasperated passengers could be seen waiting outside one of the Qatar Airways offices in Dubai. They said they've been calling the airline but they were put on hold for hours, following which some of them decided to personally visit the office.
Meanwhile, the Indian expatriate community are a worried lot in Qatar. There are about 6.5 lakh Indians working in that country out of which 3.5 lakh are from Kerala. Their safety has become a concern for their families back home.
The country is also at risk of food shortage as it was signalled by the heavy rush at the hypermarkets for the past three days. Food, egg, meat and milk supplies of Qatar are either from or routed through Saudi but the country hopes the transactions will have a smooth flow in the holy month of Ramadan.