The political crisis engulfing Qatar stems from accusations by its Arab neighbors that it supports terrorism. Qatar denies the allegations, but its ties with Iran and embrace of various Islamist groups have brought intense scrutiny, made it a regional outlier and created enough smoke to spark a fire.
Last week, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain severed ties with Qatar amid a slew of punitive measures.
On Friday, the four Arab states upped their pressure by designating 59 people and several charities linked to Qatar on a terrorist list.
Qatar says the moves to isolate it are politically motivated. “We do not, have not and will not support terrorist groups,” Qatar’s Foreign Ministry has said.
It can be a matter of perception. Governments across the region routinely cite terrorism as justification to clamp down on political opposition and rights activists.
Some of the groups Qatar has backed — such as the Muslim Brotherhood — are seen by many as a legitimate political force. Other groups, including some hard-line Sunni rebel factions in Syria, are not that different ideologically from groups that Saudi Arabia backs there.
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