Qatar Airways Suspended from 4 Countries
Allegations of Terrorism Support
Qatar has had little aviation coverage other than a $185,000 fine issued by Secretary Foxx for flights in airspace which the FAA had designated as restricted based on threats from conflict in the area. Qatar operates from Doha to several US cities (Chicago O’Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston Bush Intercontinental, Miami, New York JFK, Philadelphia and Washington Dulles). In addition, the carrier is part of American’s One World Alliance.
The US friendly Arab countries—Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain—have cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and announced a land, sea and airspace blockade over the terrorism support claims. The row has been simmering for some years over Qatar’s alleged funding for and support of several Islamic groups, notably Islamic State and the widely outlawed Moslem Brotherhood; the latter favors the overthrow of several hereditary rulers.
The precipitant for this action by the four countries was a report on the official Qatari news agency website two weeks ago, apparently from Qatar’s emir, criticizing Saudi Arabia and taking a more supportive line toward Iran, Saudi Arabia’s main rival in the region. Qatar said the website had been hacked.
Qatar acknowledged that their flights to/from/over these countries have been terminated.
An internecine spat within the Arab community may or may not signal security threats to the United States. The allegations of Qatar support to ISIS and the Moslem Brotherhood, if true, should cause concerns if their national carrier is allowed to operate flights to eight US points.
The Trump Administration’s predisposition towards Moslem countries is well known and subject to heavy criticism. Thus, it is surprising that this action by four Arab allies has both precipitated some strong reaction.