Maldives cut diplomatic ties, maintains trade relations with Qatar

The Maldivian government on Monday announced that the decision to sever diplomatic relations between Maldives and Qatar will not affect the commercial and economic relations between the two nations.

Early on Monday, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, Yemen and Libiya had cut off ties with Qatar over its alleged “support of terrorism”.

Maldives was the first country to follow the Saudi-led call to sever ties with Qatar, after the Gulf nations.

The president’s office released a statement on Monday, claiming that the reason it decided to sever diplomatic ties with Qatar was because it was violating the spirit of the Arab-Islamic-American Summit, which president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom had taken part in.

President Yameen along with 54 leaders of Islamic countries had joined US president Donald Trump and Saudi King Salman bin AbdulAziz Al-Saud in the summit that was held on May 21.

The objective of this summit was to address ways the countries could work together to prevent the growing threat of terrorism and extremism by promoting moderation.

According to the statement, the president’s cabinet had discussed the matter of Maldives joining the Gulf nations in severing ties with Qatar, and advised the president to follow their move in order to make Maldives’ stance against terrorism clear.

The president followed the cabinet’s advice and decided to cut off political ties with Qatar, while maintaining economic relations between the two countries, the president’s office’s statement said.

Meanwhile, Pakistan became the first country to express its solidarity with Qatar, saying that it will not sever ties with Doha. Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif had also attended the US-Islamic Summit held in May.

On Monday, six Gulf countries accused Qatar of destabilising the region and supporting terrorist organisations such as the Muslim Brotherhood.

Maldives became the seventh nation to back this sentiment with the foreign ministry issuing a statement citing “firm opposition to activities that encourage terrorism and extremism” as a reason to severe ties.

“The Maldives has always pursued a policy of promoting peace and stability in the Middle East. The Maldives reiterates its commitment to work with countries that promote peace, stability, and show solidarity in the fight against terrorism,” the foreign ministry’s statement read.

Maldives established diplomatic relations with Qatar on May 26, 1984.

The dispute between Qatar and the Gulf countries heightened after Qatar’s state-run news agency's website was hacked and comments falsely attributed to Qatar’s emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani were broadcast in the country.

In these “false comments”, the country’s leader had expressed support for Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah and Israel.

However, Qatar’s government categorically denied these comments were ever made.

Despite the Qatari denials, UAE-based Sky News Arabia and Al Arabiya kept running the discredited stories.

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