Qatar's neighbours severed ties with the tiny state of Qatar over its alleged involvement with extremist organisations June 5. According to Associated Press reports, Saudi Arabia said it cut diplomatic ties due to its "embrace of various terrorist and sectarian groups aimed at destabilising the region including the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaida, Isis and groups supported by Iran in the kingdom's restive eastern province of Qatif."
Bahrain then Saudi Arabia, followed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, Yemen and Libya severed diplomatic relations with Qatar, said the BBC.
Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE have expelled Qatar's diplomats, given other visitors from Qatar a few weeks to leave, and banned all flights and other travel to the country. The land border with Saudi Arabia has been closed, but Qatari pilgrims during Ramadan are not to be affected. Three of the states are, like Qatar, Gulf Co-operation Council members: Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain.
There were reports however that the Dolphin gas pipeline from Qatar to UAE and Oman was operating normally.
Qatar does not trade LNG directly with its fellow GCC members such as UAE and Kuwait, or with Egypt – although it did donate cargoes to Egypt when Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood was president for a year in 2012-2013. These days such trade, where it involves Qatari cargoes, is done through intermediary traders. Egypt, Kuwait, UAE and Jordan did though import 7.78mn mt of Qatari LNG in 2016, according to data from industry association International Group of LNG Importers (GIIGNL), of which 4.78mn mt alone went to Egypt.
Qatari shipments of LNG have not been threatened so far. The country's LNG industry is partly owned by major foreign investors such as ExxonMobil, Shell and Total. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reportedly called on Gulf states June 5 to stay united and work out their differences. Turkey's foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also called for dialogue. Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera reported that a UAE diplomat had sent covert emails that denigrate both Qatar and Kuwait.
UK shale operators' lobby group UK Onshore Oil & Gas seized on the possibility of a supply breakdown to argue for more home produced gas although there are not the resources proven to replace the loss of LNG from Qatar. It said that: "The current political situation regarding Qatar and its Middle Eastern neighbours shows why the UK needs to urgently get on with developing the extensive gas resource beneath our feet. According to the most recent government figures, nearly 30% of the gas we import comes from Qatar as LNG. The energy losses associated with the liquefying, transportation across oceans and continents and regasification of imported LNG upon arrival add a large and unnecessary emission factor when compared to domestically produced gas.”
Meanwhile Saudi funding of ultra-conservative mosques in the west has become an issue of debate in the UK elections in the wake of a Jihadi attack late June 3 in London that killed 7 people, with shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry (Labour Party) calling for such funding to be stopped and urging the government's interior ministry to release a report it has compiled on this issue during the past 18 months.
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