The Riyadh office of Qatar’s satellite TV network Al Jazeera was closed down by Saudi Arabia following the cutting of ties between the neighbouring Gulf countries on 5th June.
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Culture and Information has also revoked the operational licence of state-backed Al Jazeera.
“The move comes after Al Jazeera promoted the plots of terrorist groups, supported the Houthi militias in Yemen, and tried to break internal ranks with Saudi Arabia by and harming its sovereignty,” read a statement from the Saudi Press Agency.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Maldives and Mauritius all declared on 5 June a severing of diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar over its alleged support for Islamists and Iran.
Qatar has called the accusations “unjustified” and “baseless”, while Al Jazeera has long insisted its coverage is unbiased.
The TV network, however, has long drawn criticism for giving voice to criticism of autocratic governments in the Middle East. Notably Al Jazeera stands accused of supporting the deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and the Sunni Islamist Muslim Brotherhood that he led, in line with Qatar’s political policy – an accusation that has led to the arrest and imprisonment in Egypt of a number of its journalists in recent years. Saudi Arabia and the UAE backed the Egyptian military in removing Morsi from power.
The escalating row between the countries casts a shadow over both the future of the Qatari broadcaster and of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which comprises Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi, UAE, and Yemen.