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The New Arab

Trump praises Qatar anti-terror efforts as UAE attempts to escalate crisis with airspace complaints

UAE accused of making unsubstantiated claims about air incidents to escalate crisis with Qatar [AFP]

Date of publication: 16 January, 2018

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The US president on Monday praised Doha for its counter-terrorism efforts as rival UAE sought to escalate crisis with unsubstantiated claims Qatar had intercepted Emirati civilian planes.

The US president on Monday praised Doha for its counter-terrorism efforts as rival UAE sought to escalate crisis with yet unsubstantiated claims Qatar had intercepted Emirati civilian planes.

In a statement that suggested a warming of ties between the US and Qatar, the White House said US President Donald Trump phoned the ruler of Qatar Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani to thank him for “action to counter terrorism and extremism in all forms". 

Initially, Trump had tweeted in support of the Saudi-led measures against Qatar, but the US has since taken the middle ground between its allies in the Gulf region.

“The leaders discussed areas in which the United States and Qatar can partner to bring more stability to the region, counter malign Iranian influence, and defeat terrorism,” the statemend said.

Trump also "reiterated his support for a strong, united Gulf Cooperation Council that is focused on countering regional threats". 

Trump's praise of Qatar comes as the UAE, one of four Arab countries blockading Qatar by land, sea and air, moved to escalate the row with Doha. 

The UAE civil aviation chief said on Tuesday he will lodge a complaint with the International Civil Aviation Organization after claiming Qatari jets came within little more than three kilometers of Emirati passenger flights, a claim Qatar has denied and experts have doubted.

The UAE had claimed on Monday that Qatari fighter jets had "intercepted" two passenger flights headed for Bahrain, drawing a swift denial from Qatar, which accused the UAE of covering up its own violations of Qatar's airspace with 'fake news'. 

Experts and commentators are now warning that the UAE may be seeking to trigger a military incident to heat up the crisis with Qatar, after the blockade failed to pressure Doha to give in to demands.

King's College London academic, Andreas Krieg, told Al Jazeera he thought the allegation that Qatar intercepted Emirati airliners was "fake news" and that the country had no incentive to breach International Air Transport Association (IATA) rules.

"Qatar is in full compliance with IATA regulations," Krieg told Al Jazeera. "Qatar has built its entire narrative on being a reliable partner in multilateral organisations and institutions."

Worth mentioning that Qatar does not prevent Emirati aircraft from using its airspace, despite the UAE denial of access to Qatari civilian airplanes.



On 5 June, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic and economic ties with gas-rich Qatar, accusing it of links to extremist groups.

Saudi Arabia then issued Qatar with a list of demands, including shutting down media outlets Al Jazeera and London-based The New Arab, curbing relations with Iran, and closing a Turkish military base in the emirate.

Qatar denies the charges and says their move is aimed at curtailing its sovereignty.

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