Escalations between Manama and Doha have continued to drag on for weeks, raising questions regarding upcoming GCC talks aimed at resolving the three-year-long crisis.
Bahrain rejected Qatar’s claims to the United Nations [UN] regarding the reported December 9 violation of Doha’s airspace by its fighter jets, claiming that the allegations are “baseless”, Anadolu Agency reported.
Manama’s response comes after Doha sent a letter to the UN Security Council about the alleged violation of its airspace by four Bahraini fighter jets.
In a statement by its Foreign Ministry, the country described Qatari authorities’ claims as “irresponsible” alleging that on the date of the incident, two of its F-16’s along with two others from the US were on a military drill in the “designated military exercise area” in Saudi Arabia’s airspace, insisting that they had not trespassed into Qatari territory.
The statement added that following the exercise, the fighter jets were reportedly heading back to Bahrain and had to cross the Saudi airspace on its way in order to land at Isa Air Base.
The statement read: “The ministry affirms that this is the usual exit route from the military drill area towards the airspace of the Kingdom of Bahrain and that on their way back, the aircraft did not use the Qatari airspace as the Royal Bahraini Air Force fighters always perform their sorties in a professional manner, making sure not to penetrate the borders of other countries.”
On Thursday, Doha’s Permanent Representative to the UN, ambassador Sheikha Alya bint Ahmed bin Saif Al-Thani presented the official complaint on behalf of her government, confirming Bahraini military aircrafts violated their airspace.
The letter submitted before the UN and its representatives expressed Doha’s strong condemnation of the violations, describing them as an infringement of its sovereignty, territorial integrity and security.
Qatar added that the violations are also inconsistent with international law, noting that such escalations raise tensions in the region, which have already been exacerbated by the unjust blockade on Qatar, which Manama is involved in, the Qatari News Agency [QNA] said.
“[The letter] called on Bahrain to refrain from these provocative and irresponsible acts, and to abide by the United Nations Charter, international law, international agreements and the provisions of the International Court of Justice,” QNA reported.
Bahrain’s role in promoting regional stability is still in question following several violations of Qatar’s water and air territories.
That being said, reports released last week suggested that Manama has been pushing for negotiations with Doha to reach a maritime agreement.
According to Kuwaiti media, the potential agreement would entail sharing territorial waters that would allow fishermen from both countries to access their territorial waters “in a way that would benefit the citizens of the two countries and enhance joint Gulf cooperation”.
On Wednesday, Bahrain also called for an end to the GCC crisis after weeks of silence despite current reconciliation talks.
Some analysts believe that Bahrain is being used by the UAE as a tool to sabotage the current negotiations taking place to resolve the Gulf crisis.
Speaking to Doha News, Dr. Majed Al-Ansari, Assistant Professor of Political Sociology at Qatar University, said: “It was very clear that the Bahrainis and Emiratis are not keen to end the crisis. We have seen the delay in their announcements of supporting the Kuwaiti efforts and we’ve seen no deescalation in the media from their side. However, it is also known that Manama’s foreign policy is a proxy for the Saudi foreign policy and, more recently, for the Emirati foreign policy.”
All GCC members will be meeting on December 27 for a virtual preparatory session ahead of the 41st GCC Summit, scheduled on January 5th in Riyadh.
Commenting on the December meeting, Bahraini Minister for Foreign Affairs Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani said that his country looks forward to a successful session “that leads to strengthening the Gulf dialogue in order to achieve the desired future goals”.
In 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt announced the illegal blockade on Qatar, severing all diplomatic relations with the Gulf country.