UAE hits back at Qatar for filing UN discrimination complaint

The move by Doha was viewed by Gulf analysts and officials as a ploy to keep the dispute alive.
Thursday 21/06/2018
Dhows are seen at the bay of Doha in Qatar. (AP)
Sailing toward the unknown. Dhows are seen at the bay of Doha in Qatar. (AP)

LONDON - A year after four Arab countries severed diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar, Doha filed a formal compliment against the United Arab Emirates with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) alleging discrimination because of the boycott.

Qatar claimed the UAE was guilty of human rights violations because of the dispute that erupted June 5, 2017, when Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with Qatar.

The four countries said Doha’s support of Islamist militant groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as its ties with Iran were against the Arab region’s interests.

The official complaint stated that the Qatari government believes actions resulting from the dispute were in violation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which the UAE and Qatar have both signed. However, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt are not signatories to the agreement.

“As set forth in detail in Qatar’s application to the International Court, the UAE led these actions, which have had a devastating effect on the human rights of Qataris and residents of Qatar,” the Doha government said in an official statement.

The move by Doha, which is seeking financial compensation through the ICJ, was viewed by Gulf analysts and officials as a ploy to keep the dispute alive while the other countries involved apparently have seen the issue with Doha drop in importance.

The UAE was quick to answer the Qatari complaint.

“We say it is no surprise that the one who dared to lie in allegations about haj would stoop this low,” UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash commented via Twitter. "We will witness further downfall (of Doha) as a result of the failure and despair of the agitated [country] in resolving their crisis."

The “haj” mention by Gargash came from an accusation by Qatar's Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs that land routes to Saudi Arabia remain closed and that direct flights to Jeddah were unavailable for those planning the pilgrimage this year.

The Saudi Ministry of Haj issued a statement June 5 welcoming pilgrims from all over the world for the haj August 19-24 but accused Doha of obstructing its residents’ attempts at performing the pilgrimage.

"Based on the negative attitude and intransigence of the Qatari authorities to enable citizens and residents of Qatar to perform haj and umrah rituals, the Ministry of Haj and Umrah welcomes the Qatari people,” the ministry statement said.

The statement added that all that was required of them was to register their information when they arrived at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah.

Last year, to address Doha’s efforts in politicising the haj, Riyadh opened its border crossing with Qatar to allow pilgrims to reach Mecca by land. Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud sent aeroplanes to Qatar to transport Qatari pilgrims to the haj at his own expense.

Despite international efforts to mediate a solution, the dispute with Qatar appears to be a long one. Doha recently banned imports from the boycotting Arab countries and its relations with Iran have strengthened. Lessening relations with Tehran was among demands made by the boycotting countries.

Statements from Gulf officials suggest the dispute had fallen in priority for the boycotting countries. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz told Egyptian media in March that the issue was “trivial.” He dismissed Qatar as “smaller than a Cairo street” and compared the dispute to the 60-year US embargo of Cuba.