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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Bahraini crown prince to ‘visit Doha soon’ following months of post-blockade tensions: source

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The status of ties between Qatar and Bahrain has been unclear despite the signing of the Al-Ula Declaration in January.

Crown Prince of Bahrain Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa is expected to visit Qatar soon, according to journalist Jaber Al Harami.

The influential Qatari writer was the first to announce the news in a tweet on Monday, garnering a flurry of engagement from Gulf relations experts and academics who believe the move to be an attempt by Manama to finally restore ties with Doha following months of tension. 

“Bahrain’s CP Salman bin Hamad to come to Qatar soon to implement the last remaining element of Al Ula’s Gulf reconciliation – Qatar insisted on Bahrainis to come to Doha to start the process, which appears to be in the books now,” said Dr. Andreas Krieg, an assistant professor at the Defence Studies Department of King’s College London and researcher on Gulf Affairs, quote tweeting Al Harami’s tweet. 

Prominent writer at Al Mayadeen News, Wafa Alamm questioned whether the anticipated visit will turn the page on the differences that stood in the way of Qatari-Bahraini relations.

Other local social media figures questioned whether trust is still there after all that has taken place between the two countries and if tensions will rise once again in the future. 

Bahraini and Qatari authorities have yet to officially confirm the visit of the crown prince.

Post-blockade tensions

Bahrain was among a quartet that imposed an illegal air, land and sea blockade on Qatar in 2017.

Read also: Bahrain says it sent Qatar two invitations for dialogue

While the dispute has since been resolved with the signing of the Al-Ula Accord at the 41st GCC Summit in Saudi Arabia this year, issues between Manama and Doha have remained unsolved, posing a question on the status of reconciliation between the two states.

In February, a Bahraini official made the first diplomatic visit to Qatar since the blockade to deliver an official invitation for talks to resolve pending issues between the two Gulf states.

In the weeks prior to the signing of the declaration, Bahrain had continuously attempted to provoke Qatar by breaching its territorial waters and airspace.

Throughout those incidents, Bahraini media continued to vilify Qatar for arresting those accused of illegally entering its territories, despite Manama’s role in imposing the blockade.

Bahrain also filed a “note of protest” to the Qatari foreign ministry over an episode aired by Al Jazeera in March as part of the “Out of Context” programme, which focused on a book by Nader Matrouk that delved into the torture of opposition prisoners in Bahrain’s Jau Central Prison in 2015.

Shortly after the signing of the declaration in January, Qatari families attempting to visit Bahrain were denied entry at the King Fahd Causeway despite the opening of the land, air, and sea borders.

Bahrain’s border authorities asked Qataris to register for an “online visa” as per blockade regulations, despite those restrictions being nullified with the Al Ula Declaration.

Analysts at the time said authorities in Doha dismissed invitations by Bahrain for dialogue due to continuous provocations by Manama.

“It clearly doesn’t seem to make sense to Qatari officials that, during escalations and ongoing attempts to taint Qatar as aggressive in the eyes of Bahraini society, that Doha would receive an invitation to send an official delegation for talks,” Dr. Majed Al-Ansari, Assistant Professor of Political Sociology at Qatar University, told Doha News in February.

Unlike Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt, there has been no news regarding trade nor an update of policies between Bahrain and Qatar as of yet.


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