Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain ties with Qatar on Monday, accusing the wealthy Gulf Arab state of supporting terrorism.

The coordinated move dramatically escalates a simmering dispute over Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s oldest Islamist movement. Doha also stands accused of backing the agenda of regional arch-rival Iran.

The three Gulf states announced the closure of transport ties with Qatar and gave Qatari visitors and residents two weeks to leave their countries.

In an apparent reference to its influential state-owned satellite channel al-Jazeera, Saudi Arabia accused Qatar of spreading a violent ideology and backing militant groups.

“(Qatar) embraces multiple terrorist and sectarian groups aimed at disturbing stability in the region, including the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS (Islamic State) and al-Qaeda, and promotes the message and schemes of these groups through their media constantly,” state news agency SPA said.

The statement went on to accuse Qatar of supporting what it described as Iranian-backed militants in its restive and largely Shi’ite Muslim-populated Eastern region of Qatif, and in Bahrain.

There was no immediate Qatari reaction to the announcements, but it has denied supporting terrorism or Iran in the past.

On its state news agency, Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous nation, said Qatar’s policy “threatens Arab national security and sows the seeds of strife and division within Arab societies according to a deliberate plan aimed at the unity and interests of the Arab nation.”

Oil markets rose more than 1% on the news. Qatar is the world’s top liquefied natural gas (LNG) and condensate shipper.

Brent crude oil futures rose 70 cents, or 1.4 percent, to US$50.65 per barrel by 0345 GMT. US West Texas Intermediate futures were at $48.34 a barrel, up 68 cents, or 1.4 percent. Traders said that prices had also received support from a tightening physical crude market.

Saudi Aramco raised July prices for its Arab Light grade to all major regions of Asia, Northwest Europe, and the United States on Sunday.