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Friday, March 5, 2021

Bahrain’s Parliament to take action against Qatar over fishing boat incident

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Contrary to Doha’s narrative, Manama claims that the boat was within the Kingdom’s territorial waters, accusing Qatari coastguards of trespassing.

Bahrain parliament announced on Sunday that it was going to pursue legal action against Qatar for stopping one of its fishing boats over the weekend. Qatar’s ministry of interior had said the boat trespassed into Doha’s territorial waters, a claim Manama denies.

Bahraini lawmakers allege the vessel was “within the Kingdom’s waters” and described the fishermen’s arrest as part of Qatar’s “hostile policy” towards Bahrain.

On Saturday Qatari authorities reported that three sailors on a Bahraini vessel were arrested by coastguards after trespassing in “Fasht al-Dibel” area, 1.3 nautical miles within Qatari waters. 

This latest incident is the second in less than a month and although Bahrain claims that the boats were within its waters, Bahraini officials did not provide the specific locations where the boats were stopped. 

Mohammad al-Buainain, head of the Foreign Affairs, Defense and Security Committee in the Bahraini Parliament, said that Qatari authorities are “targeting the Bahraini fishermen in the Kingdom’s territorial,” a policy he described as  “blackmail and political provocation.”

In November, Bahrain accused Qatari marine units of violating “regional and international agreements” after they stopped two Bahraini boats inside Qatari waters. Doha maintains that the interception was due to an unnotified breach of its territorial waters. 

According to officials, the Qatari Coast Guard and Border Security department attempted to contact Bahrain’s operations room to inquire about the reported breach but were initially unable to reach them. 

Read also: Bahrain violates Qatar’s territorial waters for second time in less than a month.

That being said, Al-Buainain claims that Qatar’s decision is unjust and part of Qatar’s “dangerous provocative practices” against Bahrain.

“This parliamentary move comes within the framework of defending the rights of Bahraini fishermen and their demands to put an end to the dangerous provocative practices committed by the Qatari authorities against them in the territorial waters of Bahrain,” he said. 

Bahrain, along with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt, have imposed a land, air and sea blockade on Qatar since June 2017 over their claim that the state of Qatar is too close to Iran and groups associated with terrorism in the Middle East. Qatar has always denied the charges. The blockading countries have also banned aircrafts, maritime vessels, and any locally-registered vehicles from crossing Qatari territories.

Read also: A deal may be imminent but how long will it take to rebuild trust within the GCC?

In the early days of the diplomatic and economic embargo, Qatari marine units seized 15 Bahraini fishing boats, for operating illegally in their waters according to officials.

On the other hand, Qatar Airways has been forced for three years now to shift its routes so it does not fly through any of the blockading countries’ airspace. 

Historically, Qatar and Bahrain had a deep-rooted territorial contention over the waters and small islands that separate the peninsula from the main islands of its maritime neighbor which was eventually resolved by the International Court of Justice in 2001.

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