Iran sends food as neighbours isolate Qatar

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Iran’s national carrier has already delivered 90 tons of food and flights will continue “based on demand”.

Three boats, carrying more than 350 tons of food, will also be leaving an Iranian port for Qatar, according to Tasnim news agency, quoting local officials.

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It was not clear whether the shipments were made as aid deliveries or as exports.

The deliveries came nearly a week after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates began a blockade against Qatar, sparking an unprecedented diplomatic crisis.

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The Gulf states expelled Qatari nationals from their territory, cut trade links to the emirate and banned Qatar’s national airline from their airspace. Egypt and Yemen followed in passing measures against Doha.

The blockade was in retaliation for what the states claim is Qatari support for terrorist groups and close relations with Iran.

Qatar denies the claims. It has hired John Ashcroft, the US Attorney General during the 9/11 attacks, to review its attempts to combat terrorism and terrorism funding.

The peninsula, which is connected to Saudi Arabia, is heavily reliant on imports for food and before it was cut off from its neighbours brought in 80% of its supply from surrounding Gulf countries.

The isolation measures have led to supermarket queues as citizens anticipated food shortages.

Customers at the al-Meera market in the Qatari capital Doha
Image:Doha relies on its neighbours for 80% of food imports

Iran has opened up its airspace to around 100 new Qatari flights daily, upping its air traffic by 17% according to the official state news agency.

Other states in the region have also stepped in. Kuwait, which is not joining in the blockade of Qatar, is pushing to adopt a mediating role in the rift.

Turkey’s parliament has also approved sending troops to be stationed in Qatar.

The move to isolate Qatar followed a visit to Saudi Arabia by US President Donald Trump.

Speaking in Washington on Friday, he told journalists that the “nation of Qatar, unfortunately, has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level”.

The US has, however, called on Gulf states to “de-escalate” the crisis.

A sign at a market in Qatar
Image:Qatar denies funding international terrorist groups

Saudi accuses Qatar of backing groups allied with Iran across the region, including Shiite militant groups in both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

Saudi has also accused Qatar of supporting the Houthi rebels in Yemen, despite the fact that Doha is a member of a Saudi-led coalition bombing the group.

The states involved in the blockade have released a list of 59 entities and individuals that they say are involved in “terrorist” activities.

Qatar denies accusations that it provides financial support to groups like Islamic State and Al Qaeda, and defends its links with Iran and Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood.

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