Major diplomatic rift sees nations cutting ties with Qatar

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain are withdrawing their diplomats from the country

The plane landed in Auckland after a 14,500 km trip from Doha

Qatar Airways flight

Four nations have cut their ties with Qatar - accusing the Gulf State of supporting terrorism.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain announced they are withdrawing their diplomats from the country.

Saudi Arabia accused Qatar of backing militant groups and spreading their ideology.

The country’s state news agency SPA said the country “embraces multiple terrorist and sectarian groups” including ISIS, al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood.

It also accused Qatar of supporting what it described as Iranian-backed militants in eastern Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

Qatar has denied any involvement in funding extremist groups.

The country’s foreign ministry said it was facing a campaign aimed at weakening it's influence in the region and denied it was interfering in other country’s affairs.

"The campaign of incitement is based on lies that had reached the level of complete fabrications," the Qatari foreign ministry said in a statement.

Iran – a Qatari ally – blamed the US President Donald Trump for setting the stage for the rift during his recent trip to Saudi capital Riyadh.

Hamid Aboutalebi, deputy chief of staff of Iran's President Hassan Rouh tweeted that: "What is happening is the preliminary result of the sword dance."

Trump international tour

The tweet is in reference to President Trump’s participation in a traditional sword dance during his visit.

The US leader used the trip to call on Muslim countries to stand united against extremists adding “this is not a battle between different faiths, different sects, or different civilizations.”

"This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life, and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it,” he said.

He singled out Iran as a key source of funding and support for militant groups.

The US President also used the trip to finalise the “largest single arms deal in American history” with Saudi Arabia – believed to be worth almost €110bn.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters in Sydney on Monday that Washington had encouraged its Gulf allies to resolve their differences.

Cutting off transport ties

Announcing the closure of transport ties with Qatar, the three Gulf states gave Qatari visitors and residents two weeks to leave.

Airline companies including Emirates, Etihad and FlyDubai are suspending flights to Qatar from tomorrow.

Qatar Airways said on its official website it had suspended all flights to Saudi Arabia.