Qatar, Bahrain trade accusations over alleged incursions

by Jeremy Binnie

Qatar has alleged Bahrain is attempting to increase regional tensions by violating its territory, while Bahrain has accused Qatar of doing the same thing by making false accusations, according to recently released letters to the UN Security Council.

Three of the Bahraini aircraft and a US Air Force F-16 that participated in a joint exercise held on 6-10 December. (Bahrain Defence Force)

Three of the Bahraini aircraft and a US Air Force F-16 that participated in a joint exercise held on 6-10 December. (Bahrain Defence Force)

In a letter dated 31 December, Qatar’s UN ambassador accused Bahrain of “attempting to create incidents that could undermine stability, increase tension in the region, and threaten regional and international peace and security” with recent aerial and maritime incursions into its territory.

It detailed the maritime incursion, saying the Qatari navy stopped and questioned two 9.8 m-long Bahraini naval patrol boats that entered Qatari territorial waters off the northwest of the peninsula on 25 November. The Bahrainis told their Qatari counterparts that they were taking refuge from bad weather and then changed their story to say both their GPS devices were malfunctioning, according to the letter.

Six Bahraini Coast Guard patrol boats approached the area about 90 minutes later. The Qatari authorities contacted the Bahraini Coast Guard to demand all eight boats leave Qatari waters, which they did.

The air violation took place on 9 December and involved four Bahraini F-16s flying through Qatari airspace “in close combat formation” for a minute without permission, according to an earlier Qatari letter to the Security Council.

The letter included maps with radar plots of the incident showing the aircraft flew across a projection of Qatari territorial waters/airspace between Saudi Arabia and the Hawar islands, which the International Court of Justice decided are Bahraini rather than Qatari territory in 2001.

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Qatar has alleged Bahrain is attempting to increase regional tensions by violating its territory, wh...

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