Gulf diplomatic crisis undermines global efforts to fight Islamic State, says Qatar

Dubai: The fight against the Islamic State group has suffered in the Gulf crisis, which has seen Doha isolated from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Qatar's foreign minister said Wednesday.

The closure of Qatar's only land border and the airspace ban on Qatari planes "undermines the global efforts in countering" Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said in an interview with CNBC.

Gulf diplomatic crisis undermines global efforts to fight Islamic State, says Qatar

File image of Qatar's foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani. Reuters

In June, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain announced a string of sanctions against Qatar, accusing Doha of supporting Islamist extremists. Qatar denies the accusations.

The wealthy Gulf emirate is home to the Al-Udeid air base, home to some 11,000 US soldiers and crucial in the fight against Islamic State.

As part of the coalition's operations, numerous air strikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan have been conducted from Al-Udeid, the largest US base in the region.

The foreign minister said Al-Udeid had also suffered under the air blockade as well as the Saudi decision to seal off Qatar's only land border – a move that prompted Iran, along with Turkey, to step in and provide much-needed food imports.

The land border had been used for 90 percent of Qatar's food and medical supplies, with "part of it is going to the base", said Sheikh Mohammed.

Qatar's military planes which had been providing logistical support for the coalition are now "only allowed to use one path, which is toward the north – toward Iran," he added.

Qatari troops in June were also ordered out of Bahrain, where they had been serving with the US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT).

NAVCENT is part of the US Central Command whose area of operation includes the West Asia and Asia.

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Updated Date: Oct 18, 2017 19:34:16 IST

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