Gulf States' Break With Qatar Won't Affect Fight Against ISIS, Says Tillerson

The U.S. secretary of state urged the Gulf Cooperation Council nations to sort out their differences

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks with U.A.E. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan at the Gulf Cooperation Council leaders summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 21, 2017.
JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he does not expect a decision by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to sever ties with Qatar on Monday to have a significant effect on the fight against the Islamic State. 

"I do not expect that this will have any significant impact, if any impact at all, on the unified - the unified - fight against terrorism in the region or globally," Tillerson told reporters in Sydney after meetings between Australian and U.S. foreign and defense ministers. 

Tillerson urged the Gulf Cooperation Council nations to sort out their differences.

The Qatari Foreign Ministry responded later Monday morning, blasting the decision as "unjustified" and saying "it will have no influence on Qatar or its citizens."

The coordinated move dramatically escalates a dispute over Qatar's support for the Muslim Brotherhood, the world's oldest Islamist movement, and adds accusations that Doha backs the agenda of regional arch-rival Iran.

The four Gulf nations announced they would withdraw their diplomatic staff from Qatar. Saudi Arabia has notified all Qatari citizens residing in the country that they must leave within 14 days; additionally, it will close all border crossings and suspend all flights to Qatar, and will remove Qatar from the Arab coalition fighting in Yemen.

The United Arab Emirates told Qatari diplomats that they have 48 hours to leave the country, and state-owned Etihad Airways said it will suspend all flights to and from Qatari capital Doha from Tuesday morning until further notice.