Gulf block remains in deadlock one year on

One year has passed since Saudi Arabia and its allies cut ties with Qatar, sparking the biggest diplomatic crisis in the Gulf in years.

Simmering regional tensions boiled over on June 5 2017, when Saudi Arabia and its allies Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) severed diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar.

Land and maritime borders with the Gulf country were shut, air links suspended and Qatari citizens expelled.

The GCC rift followed United States President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia in May, where he met leaders of Islamic countries.

Accusing Doha of supporting “terrorists” and being too close to Saudi Arabia’s arch-rival Iran, Riyadh said it acted to “protect its national security from the dangers of terrorism and extremism”.

Throughout, Qatar has strongly rejected the accusations levelled against it, viewing the campaign as an attempt to impose custodianship over the nation.

Bahrain and Egypt both gave Qatari embassies 48 hours to leave their countries, while recalling their own diplomats and charge d’affaires from Doha.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia gave Qatari citizens in their countries two weeks to leave and ordered their own citizens in Qatar to return.

READ MORE: Saudi Arabia demands Qatar close Al Jazeera, sever ties with Iran

The oil-rich kingdom also closed the Riyadh bureau of Al Jazeera Media Network. Jordan followed suit and announced it would scale back its diplomatic ties with Qatar.

In a country heavily dependent on food imports, concerns were raised about whether the border closures would lead to food shortages in Qatar. However, countries such as Iran and Turkey have increased their food exports to Doha, resulting in well-stocked supermarkets. 

Deadlines and blacklists

On June 22, the quartet gave Qatar 10 days to comply with a list of 13 demands , which included shutting down Al Jazeera and the Turkish military base in Doha, as well ascurbing relations with Iran.

After a two-day extension, Qatar rejected the list as “unrealistic”, describing the demands as “not actionable”.

The quartet responded by threatening new sanctions, and on July 25 unveiled a “terrorist” blacklist of 18 groups and individuals, which they claimed have links to Qatar.

READ MORE: Saudi permanently closes only land border with Qatar

The blacklist later grew to include 90 names, some affiliated to the Qatar Red Crescent, the International Union of Muslim Scholars, and the International Islamic Council for Da’wah and Relief.

The blockade has disrupted businesses, education and transportion between Qatar and its neighbours, while also tearing apart GCC inter-marriages .

Qatar describes the actions taken by the blockading countries as having “no legitimate justification”, saying the decisions infringe on its sovereignty .

Both the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and the country’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani have reiterated the Gulf nation is willing to negotiate with the boycotting countries, and have welcomed calls from international leaders to sit down for talks.

Despite serious high-level Kuwaiti, American, and European mediation efforts, the situation remains unresolved and at a standstill. — Al Jazeera

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