Senior Gulf officials have renewed calls for Qatar to cut ties with Libyan groups suspected of having ties with the terrorist responsible for the Manchester bombing, which killed 22 people and injured scores more.
The calls came as a coalition of Arab states led by Saudi Arabia intensified their attempts to impose a trade embargo against Qatar over its alleged links with extremist terror groups and its relations with Iran.
As Qataris faced food shortages, a group of businessmen were reported to be planning the import of 4,000 cows to prevent the severe milk shortages.
The Telegraph’s Con Coughlin wrote that Gulf officials remain insistent that the blockade will remain in place until Qatar agrees to stop funding extremist groups that are accused of supporting terrorism.
“Qatar’s backing of Al-Qaeda-related groups in Libya and Syria has plunged both conflicts into deeper chaos, while contributing to the worsening spillover of migrants and refugees,” Sheikh Fawaz bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa, the Bahraini ambassador to London, said in an exclusive interview with with The Telegraph.
“I am especially concerned by reports of a connection between the Manchester bomber and Qatari-backed factions in Libya.”
Salman Abedi, the terrorist responsible for the Manchester attack, is thought to have been in touch with Isil groups based in Libya shortly before carrying out the attack.
His father, Ramadan Abedi, was a member of the Libyan self-proclaimed Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), which is said to have close links with al-Qaeda.
Abdulhakim Belhadj, a leading Tripoli-based extremists who also had links with LIFG, is named on the list of 59 individuals and 12 entities issued by Saudi and its allies which they say are linked to Qatar over terrorism.
There is growing concern in countries like Bahrain about the links between the radical cells that receive Qatari funding and terror cells that carry out atrocities such as those recently witnessed in Britain, said the top diplomat.
Closer to home, Qatar is undermining stability in Bahrain by supporting terrorist groups such as Saraya Al Ashtar, a group that has carried out bombings and assassinations against security forces.
“The unprecedented steps taken by Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt demonstrate the seriousness of their warning to Qatar,”Sheikh Fawaz said.
Another senior Gulf official warned that the region could be heading for a new “cold war” if Qatar did not drop its support for extremist groups. “For years Qatar has been trying to destabilize the region through its support for extremist groups.
The time has come when the rest of the Arab world says: ‘Enough is enough.'”