Several moves that analysts had described as “provocative” were carried out by Bahrain.
Qatar has reportedly arrested and seized two ships coming from Bahrain. It’s after six fishermen breached Qatar’s territorial waters on Wednesday according to Manama’s news agency (BNA).
Breaches of Qatar’s territorial waters also occurred during the 2017 GCC crisis.
That’s when Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, and Egypt imposed an illegal land, air and sea blockade on Qatar. Those claims have since been dismissed by Qatar.
The embargo on Qatar was then lifted by the quartet following the signing of the Al-Ula Declaration on 5 January 2021.
Despite this, a breach was reported in October of the same year as Bahrain accused Qatar of not committing to its obligations under the Al-Ula accord.
Is Bahrain playing the role of saboteur in GCC reconciliation?
In the latest incident, BNA said that Qatar reportedly arrested two Bahrainis and four people of an Asian nationality for entering its waters for fishing.
Those who were arrested will be referred to the competent authorities in Qatar as the Bahraini Coast Guard Command says “it is following up its necessary legal procedures”.
Doha News has reached out to authorities in Qatar for a comment and has yet to receive a response on the matter.
Several moves that analysts had described as ‘provocative’ were carried out by Bahrain. One such move included seizing 130 properties reportedly belonging to relatives of Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
At the time of the GCC crisis, Qatar filed a complaint to the UN regarding a 9 December, 2020, over the breach of its airspace by four Bahraini fighter jets.
Whilst several lawsuits filed at the time of the regional dispute were reportedly dropped by Qatar, there have been no updates on the one regarding the Bahraini jets.
Bahrain has always claimed that Qatar has not responded to its invitations to resolve outstanding issues.
“Qatar didn’t show after the Al Ula Summit any initiative to solve pending problems with Bahrain,” Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani in January last year, weeks into the signing of the accord.
Read also: Experts slam Bahrain’s ‘audacious’ condemnation of Qatari human rights record
In the same month, Bahrain said it sent Qatar an invitation to discuss their pending issues.
The GCC’s Secretary-General Nayef bin Falah Al-Hajraf then said in February, 2021 that Qatar did not respond to the invite as it was sent through the media and not directly to the relevant authorities.
Another invitation was delivered by Bahrain’s Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Regional and GCC Affairs Ambassador Waheed Mubarak Sayyar during his visit to Doha in the same month.
A more positive statement came out last month from Bahrain’s Undersecretary for Land Transportation and Post at the Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunications, Sami Buhaza’a.
The Bahraini official brought back the Qatar-Bahrain bridge project that connects the two neighbouring countries. Buhaza’a stated Bahrain’s willingness to hold talks with Qatar on the matter and renewed the previous two invitations.
Qatar and Bahrain’s ties have appeared to be more fractured in comparison to the neigbouring countries in the region.
The two countries were on the verge of war in 1986 over disputed territories, including the Zubura, and the Janan Islands as well as Fasht Al-Dibal.
Conflicts over the areas began as early as 1937, when an intervention by British colonialists settled a dispute by demarcating the borders. At the time, the territories were said to be under “Britain’s protection”.
The two sides were then advised to raise the feud at the International Court of Justice in The Hague in 1990. The court requested evidence from Qatar and Bahrain to rule on ownership of the territories.
The case lasted for a decade and ended in 2001, when the court granted Qatar sovereignty over Zubara and Jinan Islands, Haddad Janan and Fasht Al Dibal. Bahrain was given sovereignty over the Hawar islands and Qit’at Jarada.
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