Iran send planes stuffed with food to Qatar

Five Iranian planes filled with food have landed at Doha airport as the blockade against Qatar by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries starts to bite.

Iran said the planes were filled with vegetables and that it plans to send 100 tons of fresh fruit and legumes every day to the import-dependent nation, according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency.

“So far five planes carrying … vegetables have been sent to Qatar, each carrying around 90 tonnes of cargo, while another plane will be sent today,” Iran Air spokesman Shahrokh Noushabadi told the Agence France-Presse news agency Sunday. “We will continue deliveries as long as there is demand.”

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut links with Qatar last Monday, accusing Doha of supporting and financing terrorism in the Middle East and elsewhere — a charge Qatar denies.

Separately, Iran is preparing to send a flotilla of warships first to Oman and then later to international waters north of the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden, Tasnim reported.

The agency said the fleet was dispatched as part of Iran’s commitments to fight international piracy, and did not mention tensions with Arab countries involved in the spat with Qatar.

As well as cutting air, sea and land links with Doha, three of the countries involved — Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE — ordered Qatari citizens to leave within 14 days.

On Sunday, Qatar said that the 11,000 citizens of those countries that have cut ties will be allowed to stay in the country.

“The state of Qatar has not taken any steps regarding the inhabitants on its territories, who are the citizens of brotherly and friendly countries which have cut diplomatic relations or downgraded diplomatic representation with the state of Qatar in the wake of biased and hostile campaigns against the state of Qatar,” the government said in a statement.

“The citizens of these states have absolute freedom to stay in the territories of the state of Qatar in adherence with the laws and applicable regulations in the country in the context of working treaties established with them and with the agreement of their countries and based on entry visas that are available to them” it continued.