UAE Accuses Qatar Of Intercepting 2 Civilian Flights, Escalating Persian Gulf Feud

A statement on Monday by the UAE's Civil Aviation Authority called the interception of the first civilian airliner, which was traveling to Bahrain, a "clear violation of international law.".

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UAE Accuses Qatar Of Intercepting 2 Civilian Flights, Escalating Persian Gulf Feud

On Friday, Qatar said it had informed the UN about violations of its airspace. (Representational image)


Abu Dhabi:  The United Arab Emirates said on Monday that two of its civilian airliners have been "intercepted" by a fighter jet from Qatar during a routine flight, in a sign of rapidly escalating tensions between the quarreling Persian Gulf neighbors.

It was not immediately clear what was meant by "intercepted." A Qatari government official dismissed the report as "completely untrue."

The accusation comes against the backdrop of Qatar's own claims of interference by the UAE. In recent weeks, Qatar has accused the fellow Gulf country of violating its airspace twice with military flights, raising concerns the quarrel could soon escalate into an armed confrontation.

On Friday, Qatar said it had informed the United Nations about the violations of its airspace, which it said had occurred on Dec. 21 and Jan. 3.

The two countries broke off diplomatic relations in June, when the UAE, Saudi Arabia and two other Arab states severed air, land and sea links with Qatar. The Arab bloc accused Qatar of supporting various militant organizations as well as Iran. Qatar denied the accusations and said it was being punished for pursuing regional policies that were independent of Saudi Arabia and its allies.

The feud has divided the Trump Administration's closest regional partners while radiating the kind of hostility redolent of a schoolyard brawl - albeit one with geopolitical consequences. Amid insults and slights, accusations of subterfuge and dirty tricks, the conflict has simmered for months as Kuwait and Western officials try in vain to broker a settlement.

A statement on Monday by the UAE's Civil Aviation Authority called the interception of the first civilian airliner, which was traveling to Bahrain, a "clear violation of international law." The statement did not name the carrier or say exactly where the incident had occurred. The Emirati state news agency later released a statement on its Twitter account saying a second civilian airliner had been intercepted.

Lt. Jenna Lenski, a spokeswoman for the United States Air Force based at the Combined Air Operations Center at the Al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar, referred questions about the incident to the Qatari Defense Ministry.

The dueling accusations over airspace came amid other signs the Gulf feud was worsening. On Sunday, in a bizarre turn, a member of Qatar's ruling family appeared in an online video, claiming that he was being detained in the UAE. The ruling family member, Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali al-Thani, had previously been hosted and promoted by members of a Saudi-led bloc, suggesting they viewed him as an alternative to the current Qatari leadership.

The video followed a string of similar, strange incidents involving coercion in the Gulf states, including the apparently forced resignation of Lebanon's prime minister during a visit to Saudi Arabia, and claims by an Egyptian political figure in November that the UAE had temporarily prevented him from leaving the country.

The UAE denied that Thani was being detained, calling him a "guest" who had "unrestrained mobility," according to a Foreign Ministry statement.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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