Qatar, Boycotting Arab States in Heated Arab League Clash

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The Saudi-led coalition has cut diplomatic ties and imposed steep trade and travel bans, which has forced Qatar to deepen ties with alternative trade partners in an attempt to stabilise social and economic conditions.

Sheikh Salman al-Awdah, an influential cleric who was imprisoned from 1994-99 for agitating for political change and has 14 million followers on Twitter, appears to have been detained over the weekend, the posting suggested.

Two clerics identified as Salman al-Odah and Awad al-Qarni, who had earlier sparked controversies over their opinions about social life in Saudi Arabia, have reportedly been arrested.

Hopes for a breakthrough were quickly dashed when Saudi Arabia suspended any dialogue with Qatar, accusing it of "distorting facts".

Several Muslim scholars in Saudi Arabia and other regional countries are pressurizing the Saudi regime to unconditionally release the detained clerics.

"Saudi Arabia is reaching a new level of Orwellian reality when it goes beyond security services' repression and outsources monitoring of citizens' online comments to other citizens", said Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson, referring to English writer George Orwell's dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.

The government toughened its stance on dissent following the Arab Spring in 2011 after it averted unrest by offering billions of dollars in handouts and state spending.

What has infuriated Riyadh most seems to be Qatar's snobbish tone at the negotiating table, and this "insult" by the Qataris made the Saudis suspend any talks with Doha until Qatari officials call for negotiations in a straightforward manner and in line with the requirements of such talks.

Initially it was reported that Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani has expressed his willingness to enter into negotiations with the quartet.

The public prosecutor reminded them separately on Twitter that "harming the state's reputation or status" constituted a "terrorist crime".

The abdication plan is just one rumor, as Voice of Israel radio claimed a Saudi prince has secretly visited with Prime Minister Netanyahu, and some are reporting that it was the crown prince. Exiled Saudi opposition activists have called for protests on September 15 meant to galvanise opposition to the royal family.

As tensions rise between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, each side is looking to K Street to win support from the US government.

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