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Saudi Arabia says airspace ban for Qatar flights was to protect citizens

15 June 2017

The crisis has put Turkey in a hard position as it views Qatar as one of its chief allies in the region, but Ankara also seeks to avoid damaging relations with Saudi Arabia and other Arab states.

"A very grave mistake is being made in Qatar, isolating a nation in all areas is inhumane and against Islamic values".

Erdogan was to hold three-way phone talks on the crisis later Tuesday with French President Emmanuel Macron and Qatar's emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.

Qatar has denied any links to terrorism or terrorist groups but their documented ties to the Iranian Regime, the leading state sponsor of terror and terrorist groups, speak for themselves.

More Arab and Muslim-majority African countries later joined the diplomatic blockade, even as several powers have called for resolving the crisis. Turkey and Qatar have developed close ties over the years and reached agreement in 2014 to set up a Turkish military base there.

Qatar said the official news agency which reported the comments was hacked - and on June 6, U.S. officials told CNN that United States investigators believe Russian hackers were behind it.

Erdogan dubbed the Saudi-led actions as tantamount to a "death penalty" imposed on Qatar, which he said was the target of a defamation campaign.

Jubeir said the closure of the border has been eased to allow divided families to be reunited, and that Saudi Arabia would send food or medical aid if needed.

Qatar can import goods from Turkey, the Far East or Europe and will respond to the crisis by diversifying its economy even more, he told CNBC.

Qatar, which imported vast majority of its food from bigger Gulf Arab neighbours before the diplomatic shutdown, has been cooperating with Iran and Turkey to secure food and water. Oman has stayed out of the conflict. "We fill up the gaps on transit and direct flights for travellers where Qatar Airways can not fly or the regional airlines have suspended flights to", an Oman Air spokesman told The National.

Iran has opened its airspace to Qatari flights after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and UAE all closed off inbound flights from the country.

While Saudi Arabia has been threatened by the group, officials in the region and their Western counterparts have claimed ISIS receives funding from backers inside the Kingdom as well as from other rich Middle Eastern countries.

Saudi Arabia and Bahrain issued identical statements on the air embargo, which came into effect when Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Manama broke off relations with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of supporting "terrorism".