close
Advertisement
Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!
AFP
July 16, 2020

Gulf remains locked in Qatar feud

World

AFP
July 16, 2020

RIYADH: A UN court’s ruling in favour of Qatar over an airspace dispute marks another setback for Saudi-led blockading nations, but despite rising international pressure to end the three-year feud, the group appears unlikely to relent.

US-led mediation efforts have come to nothing amid reported opposition from the United Arab Emirates, frustrating Washington, which has tried to unite its allies and focus on its main strategic goal -- reining in arch-foe Iran.

On Tuesday, the International Court of Justice, the UN’s highest judicial body, backed Qatar in a bitter row over an air blockade imposed by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt at the start of a regional crisis in 2017.

The ruling came after the World Trade Organisation last month rapped Riyadh for failing to protect intellectual property rights of Qatari-owned broadcaster beIN, as it refused to crack down on a bootlegging network.

The double hit raises fresh questions as to the effectiveness of the blockade, now in its fourth year despite Washington’s pleas that the dispute undercuts its efforts to challenge Iran. "The ICJ decision marks another blow for the Saudi-led quartet," Nabeel Nowairah, a Washington-based independent analyst, told AFP.

"It reflects their weak evidence and justification when presented before these internationally recognised bodies." The ICJ ruling allows Qatar to challenge airspace restrictions imposed by the Riyadh-led group in a hearing before the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), a UN aviation body.

Qatar said the ruling meant the blockading states will "finally face justice" for violating aviation rules. The forced rerouting of Qatar Airways flights does more than add to the airline’s fuel bill.

Qatar contributes to the approximately $133 million that Iranian media says Tehran receives annually for overflight rights, undermining US President Donald Trump’s maximum pressure campaign to economically squeeze Iran.

"We have been focused and working on trying to patch up the Gulf rift," David Schenker, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, told the Middle East Institute last month. "We believe it is a distraction (and) takes focus away from our common threats... We do not think it is (productive) for Qatar to be paying airspace fees to Iran."

Washington was close to brokering an agreement to end the blockade this month after high-level discussions with the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE, Fox News reported last week. But at the last minute, the UAE asked Saudi Arabia to withhold support, it said, without giving a reason. Saudi authorities did not respond to a request for comment.