Egypt cancelled an air ticket to Qatar on Tuesday, fearing the country’s civil unrest could spill over into the rest of the region.
The cancellation came hours after the kingdom and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) agreed to form a joint committee to coordinate efforts to contain the unrest in the Arab world’s largest oil exporter.
Egypt’s decision to cancel the Qatar ticket comes just days after Egypt’s government accused Qatar of violating its sovereignty by blocking its airspace.
It also comes after Egypt launched an air and sea blockade of Qatar.
“The security situation in Egypt is a matter of national security,” the ministry of interior said in a statement.
“Egypt does not accept the actions of anyone, including the United States, to interfere with its sovereignty, security or territorial integrity.
This will be done in a way that will not harm the Egyptian economy.”
Egypt’s foreign ministry has repeatedly blamed Qatar for “crimes against the national interest” and said it is “deeply disturbed” by Qatar’s actions.
Egypt also imposed a state of emergency and the closure of the main airspace over the Gulf on Tuesday after a string of demonstrations that have left hundreds dead and more than a thousand injured.
The state of emergencies and a curfew are in place across Egypt, with security forces in full combat gear deployed to guard major tourist destinations.
Egypt has long been one of the world’s most volatile states and was one of seven countries to boycott Qatar during the Arab Spring uprising.
Egypt, which hosts the 2022 World Cup, also hosts the Suez Canal, which links the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea.
The protests against Qatar began as protests against Egypt’s former President Hosni Mubarak in March 2011 and escalated with the toppling of the Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi in July 2013.
Cairo has accused Qatar, which is a major donor to the Gulf region, of backing “terrorism”, “terrorist organisations”, “provocateurs” and “terrorism”.
Egypt has also accused Qatar’s foreign minister of being part of a conspiracy against the government.
In response to Egypt’s move, Qatar’s embassy in Washington, DC, tweeted: “We will continue to stand with our dear friends and allies in Egypt and support our allies in the Gulf States in the fight against terrorism and terrorism financing.”
The statement from the Egyptian foreign ministry came hours before Qatar announced that it was halting flights between the two countries on Monday, amid a deepening rift between the Arab countries.
“We have cancelled the tickets of Qatar Airways and Egypt Airways because of the continuing violence in Egypt, and we also cancelled all flights of Qatari airlines,” the Qatar Airways tweeted.
Egypt and the UAE have long been close allies and allies of Saudi Arabia.
Qatar has been under pressure to reform its economy after it was hit by an international outcry in the wake of the 2011 uprising against former President Mohammed Morsi.
Qatari officials also blame Qatar for supporting armed groups in Syria, and Qatar has long denied these accusations.
Qatar hosts a US military base and is a member of the US-led coalition against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Iraq and Syria.