Staff members speak with passengers at Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar June 12, 2017. Reuters

THE United States and its travel ban, the United Kingdom with Brexit, and now Qatar, isolated from four neighbouring Arab nations.

While the reassurances of Canadian President Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron point us towards a more dialogue-based inclusive globalism, the tug of war between diplomacy and severance of relations is very much in play.

Last Monday, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt announced a diplomatic break with Qatar.

The four nations cut air, sea and land transport links with Qatar to punish the latter for allegedly sponsoring terrorism.

Oil prices took a hit. Panic ensued in Qatar as their only shared border with Saudi Arabia closed its gates.

Qataris have always had a shaky relationship with Saudis and Emiratis, balancing ties between the latter and Iran, picking sides in regional disputes that other Arab nations distance themselves from.

Qatar’s critics accuse the country of backing Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

This accusation confounds analysts because Qatar had fought with Saudis against Houthis.

United States President Donald Trump played a role in these developments.

His visit to the Middle East may have encouraged officials distrustful of Qatar, hinting of unobstructed support.

Qatar claims to have been cyber-attacked last month after a false report was leaked to the public linking its emir, Sheikh Tamim Hamad al-Thani, with defending Iran’s policy against Washington.

The leak, under investigation, but reported as fake by Qatar, prompted other Arab nations to take action.

As a fellow modernising Islamic nation, this dispute between our allies raises the alarm.

The development has affected Malaysians. Qatar Airways will now have to reimburse Malaysian passengers who booked flights to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain.

Malaysia Airlines’ One World partnership with Qatar Airways will also meet hurdles.

To add to our national security risks, North Korea seems adamant on continuing its ballistic missile tests, perpetuating a regional conflict that endangers East Asia’s peace.

In Europe, the snap election in Britain has left the country with a Parliament more disunited, weakening the administration at a time when extremist threats are at our front door.

Conflicts in neighbouring countries, as well as Middle East extremists venturing to other regions, threaten Malaysia’s security. For Muslim-majority countries, where we are taught to put dialogue before everything else, a world closed off and isolated is an obstacle to collaboration and communication between leaders.

Now, more than ever, Muslim countries need to be united.

Leaders of Muslim-majority nation leaders are not only leaders of their countries but also spokesmen for millions of Muslims living in Western nations, Muslims who now live in fear of discrimination from their communities.

The ideological battle against extremism starts with the endorsement of our leaders of an Islam that is more open-minded and approachable, tolerant and demonstrates that Islam is a platform for all.

Islamic State attacks hold no essence of Islam.

Like London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Muslim leaders must continue to call out these radicals for what they are: lost and uneducated to true Islam.

While these extremists terrorise streets with the belief that their actions are backed by Islam, true Islam teaches us that differences in culture are a value in that they provide the opportunity to learn from one another, to grow.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak continues to uphold stability in a time of uncertainty.

We need to embrace his concept of Wasatiyyah, where violence and inhumane acts are defined as non-Islamic, and the middle and moderate path complements all, regardless of whether one is Muslim.

This strong leadership is needed, one with experience and a clear line of authority.

Khairul Azwan Harun, Umno Youth vice-chief and Umno Supreme Council member

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