Qatar reports airspace violation by Bahraini fighter jets to UN

Qatar’s UN ambassador tells UNSC four Bahraini fighter jets flew over its territorial waters amid continuing GCC row.

Doha, Qatar
Qatar said it considered the actions a violation of its sovereignty and regional security [Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera]

Qatar has reported airspace violations by four Bahraini fighter jets to the United Nations Security Council and the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

In a letter addressed to Security Council members and to the UN’s Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Qatar’s ambassador to the UN said Bahraini military aircraft violated Qatar’s airspace by flying over the country’s territorial waters on December 9, 2020, state-run Qatar News Agency reported.

The letter expressed Qatar’s strong condemnation of these actions which it perceived as a violation of its sovereignty and regional security, adding that these violations were blatantly inconsistent with Bahrain’s obligations under international law.

These violations are considered an escalation that further raises tensions in the region, the letter said, adding that the incident was not the first of its kind.

Qatar called on Bahrain to halt these “provocative and irresponsible acts”, and urged the kingdom to abide by international law and the rulings of the International Court of Justice.

The GCC crisis

Bahrain, along with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, abruptly severed ties with Qatar in June 2017, accusing the country of backing “extremists” among other allegations that Doha strongly denies.

They imposed wide-ranging punitive measures, including banning Qatari planes from their airspace, closing Qatar’s only land border with Saudi Arabia and expelling Qatari citizens.

In July this year, the ICJ – set up in 1946 to rule in disputes between UN member states – rejected an appeal by the blockading quartet against a decision by the world civil aviation body in favour of Qatar over sovereign airspace.

In 2018, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) ruled it had the jurisdiction to handle a dispute brought by Qatar, which accused its neighbours of violating a convention that regulates the free passage of its passenger planes through foreign airspace.

But the four allies disagreed, saying the ICAO was not the right body to judge in the dispute and had asked the ICJ to declare the aviation body’s ruling “null and void and without effect”.

The move comes amid reports that efforts to end the GCC crisis have proved fruitful and a resolution is imminent.

Source: Al Jazeera