For any resident living in Qatar, the dawn of June 5, 2017, would have seemed like any other morning during the month of Ramadan. But a little before 6am, as people began their commute to work, a statement from the Bahraini ministry of foreign affairs announced a severing of diplomatic ties with Qatar. About ten minutes later, Saudi Arabia said that the kingdom had done the same.
In what appeared to be a coordinated effort, around 6.30am, state-run news agencies in the United Arab Emirates and Egypt were echoing the announcements from Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Residents of the Gulf, policymakers and international observers were largely taken by surprise. By mid-morning, Yemen’s government-in-exile had joined the diplomatic boycott, and by 2pm, Qatar’s only land border in the north was sealed off by Saudi officials.