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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Bahrain bars Qatari family from entering in latest provocation since GCC reconciliation: reports


Despite the announced restoration of diplomatic ties, tensions between Bahrain and Qatar have continued due to several questionable moves by Manama.

Qatari families attempting to visit neighbouring Bahrain have reportedly been denied entry at the King Fahd Causeway border, Doha News has learnt, the latest in a series of provocative moves by Manama since the GCC reconciliation earlier this month.

Despite the opening of land, air, and space borders for Qatar after three years of restrictions, Bahrain’s border authorities barred Qataris from entry, saying they must first register for an “online visa” as per blockade regulations.

Before the illegal blockade was implemented, both nationalities were free to cross the borders without the need for any permits. However, online registration was put in place when Manama cut diplomatic ties with Doha over several false allegations.

Earlier this month, GCC member states buried the hatchet with the signing of the Al-Ula Declaration at the annual summit to end the three-year long dispute that fractured diplomatic ties as well as familial relations.

While all other GCC states like Saudi Arabia physically welcoming Qataris in with roses, Manama has done little to abide by the declaration, which stipulates free movement for citizens of Gulf states. 

“It seems Bahrain is saying we are not welcomed. They are still preventing us from seeing our families and loved ones. I am now too worried to go and see my mother,” a Qatari university student with a Bahraini mother told Doha News. 

Unlike Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, Bahrain has yet to resume direct flights to and from Qatar, making it the only country included in the declaration to not open its airspace. 

The issue at the Bahraini border crossing is just the latest in a string of disputes.

On Tuesday, reports confirmed 130 properties belonging to the children of Khalid bin Nasser Al Missned’s, the maternal cousins of Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, were seized by Bahraini authorities.

Bahrain said the move was made “in order to expand government facilities as requested by the Ministry of Interior”.

“Pursuant to the provisions of the aforementioned law, this announcement is considered an official notice to the owners, and the owners can contact the Ministry through its email for all the details related to the matter,” the announcement added.

In the months leading up to the GCC annual summit, at least three Bahraini vessels trespassed into Doha’s territorial waters, one of which saw the arrest of a popular Bahraini  bodybuilder who was later released by Qatari authorities.

Is Bahrain playing the role of saboteur in GCC reconciliation?

In December, four Bahraini fighter jets breached its Qatar’s airspace – a claim Manama called “baseless,” further stirring the dispute between both nations. 

Read more: Bahrain dismisses Qatar’s UN claims as ‘baseless’

The recent provocative moves have led analysts to speculate whether Bahrain is resistant to reconcile with Qatar. 

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