Qatar has hit out at the decision of five Arab nations and Libya to cut military and diplomatic ties with the country, saying there is “no legitimate justification” for the move.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry of Qatar said it had been the victim of a “campaign of lies” designed to destabilise the region, hours after Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia the UAE , Yemen and Libya declared they would be severing all ties.

Qatar said the decision was a “violation of its sovereignty”, and promised its own citizens that the row will not be allowed to affect them.

But the move effectively cuts off Qatar from the outside world, with the peninsular nation lying off the Saudi mainland, and analysts said such a move could have lasting economic damage.

Emirates, the major international airline based in Dubai, announced it would suspend Qatar flights starting from Tuesday. Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways said it too would suspend flights to Qatar “until further notice.”

It wasn’t immediately clear how Monday’s announcement would affect Qatar Airways, one of the region’s major long-haul airlines, which routinely flies through Saudi airspace.

Yemen’s internationally recognised government also cut ties with Qatar on Monday, accusing it of working with its enemies in the Iran-aligned Houthi movement, state news agency Saba reported.

It welcomed the fact that the Saudi-led coalition had removed Qatar from its ranks as part of the severing of ties earlier on Monday. Qatar has been providing military aircraft in the fight against the Houthis for more than two years.

“Qatar’s practices of dealing with the (Houthi) coup militias and supporting extremist groups became clear,” the Yemeni government said in a statement.

The dispute between Qatar and the Gulf’s Arab countries started over a purported hack of Qatar’s state-run news agency.

A report was published online with comments supposedly from the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, praising Israel and criticising the country’s Arab neighbours.

A statement from Doha issued on Wednesday said that the Qatar News Agency website was hacked by an unknown entity and that a false statement attributed to His Highness has been published.

Source: NAM News Network