Tensions build in feud between Qatar and its neighbors

A senior Emirati official insisted on Wednesday that Gulf Arab states were not seeking regime change in Doha, as tensions built in a bitter feud between Qatar and its neighbors.

Speaking to AFP in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates’ state minister for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash accused Qatar of being “the main champion of extremism and terrorism in the region”.

But he also said measures taken against Qatar this week by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other Arab nations were not aimed at seeking new leadership in Doha.

“This is not about regime change — this is about change of policy, change of approach,” Gargash said.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain announced on Monday they were cutting diplomatic ties and closing air, sea and land links with Qatar, giving Qataris within their borders two weeks to leave.

The four countries have suspended all flights to and from Qatar, pulled their ambassadors from Doha and ordered Qatari diplomats to leave.

Riyadh and its allies accuse Qatar of supporting extremist groups and of serving the interests of regional arch-rival Iran, claims Doha has strongly rejected.

The dispute has sparked the worst diplomatic crisis in the Arab world in years and raised fears it will cause further instability in an already-volatile region. (AFP)

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Passengers stand at Hamad International Airport

Passengers stand at Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar, June 7, 2017. (Photo: Naseem Zeitoon/Reuters)

Passengers of cancelled flights wait in Hamad International Airport

Passengers of cancelled flights wait in Hamad International Airport (HIA) in Doha, Qatar, Tuesday, June 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

Cars drive on road leading to Hamad International Airport

Cars drive on a road leading to Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar June 5, 2017. (Photo: Stringer/Reuters)

Staff speak with passengers at Hamad International Airport

Staff speaks with passengers at Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar, June 7, 2017. (Photo: Naseem Zeitoon/Reuters)

Passengers of cancelled flights wait in Hamad International Airport

Passengers of cancelled flights wait in Hamad International Airport (HIA) in Doha, Qatar, Monday, June 5, 2017. (Photo: Hadi Mizban/AP)

Qatar Airways plane is seen in Doha

A Qatar Airways plane is seen in Doha, Qatar June 5, 2017. (Photo: Stringer/Reuters)

Worker arranges snacks in a supermarket in Doha

A worker arranges snacks in a supermarket in Doha, Qatar June 7, 2017. (Photo: Stringer/Reuters)

Buildings are seen on a coast line in Doha

Buildings are seen on a coast line in Doha, Qatar June 5, 2017. (Photo: Stringer/Reuters)

Traders monitor stock information at Qatar Stock Exchange

Traders monitor screens displaying stock information at Qatar Stock Exchange in Doha, Qatar June 5, 2017. (Photo: Stringer/Reuters)

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People look at pigeons at Souq Waqif market in Doha, Qatar, June 6, 2017. (Photo: Naseem Zeitoon/Reuters)

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General view at the grand opening of the Mall of Qatar on April 8, 2017 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo: Ian Gavan/Getty Images for Mall of Qatar)

Interior view of the Mall of Qatar

General view at the grand opening of the Mall of Qatar on April 8, 2017 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo: Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images for Mall of Qatar)

Men walk on the corniche in Doha

Men walk on the corniche in Doha, Qatar, June 6, 2017. (Photo: Naseem Zeitoon/Reuters)

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Buildings are seen in Doha, Qatar, June 5, 2017. (Photo: Stringer/Reuters)

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A performer at the grand opening of the Mall of Qata on April 8, 2017 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo: John Phillips/Getty Images for Mall of Qatar)

Children pose for a picture beside a traditional Ramadan cannon

Children pose for a picture beside a traditional Ramadan cannon in Doha, Qatar, June 6, 2017. (Photo: Naseem Zeitoon/Reuters)

Buildings are seen from across the water

Buildings are seen from across the water in Doha, Qatar June 5, 2017. (Photo: Stringer/Reuters)

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A man looks at pigeons at Souq Waqif market

A man looks at pigeons at Souq Waqif market in Doha, Qatar, June 6, 2017. (Photo: Naseem Zeitoon/Reuters)

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Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani meets with President Donald Trump

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Qatar’s Minister of Defense Khalid bin Mohammad Al-Attiyah welcomes Defense Secretary James Mattis

Qatar’s Minister of Defense Khalid bin Mohammad Al-Attiyah, left, welcomes Defense Secretary James Mattis at his residence in Doha, Qatar, Saturday April 22, 2017. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Pool via AP)

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A men stand as players attend a training session at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, May 18, 2017. Picture taken May 18, 2017. (Photo: Ibraheem Al Omari/Reuters)

Qatar Emir Sheik Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani at Diwan Palace

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