Dubai: Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt said they would submit the issue of their sovereign airspace with Qatar to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
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Early Wednesday, the four Arab nations said they’d take their own case to the ICJ over their view that the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) “was not competent to consider that dispute.”
“The appeals and hearings of the International Court of Justice are expected to take a long time … and accordingly the four states will continue to close their regional airspace to Qatari aircraft in order to preserve their national security and sovereign rights,” the nations said in a statement.
The UAE has filed two complaints with the ICAO over what it says are airspace violations that threaten civil aviation.
The UAE accuses Qatar of sending fighter jets to intercept passenger flights and a civilian helicopter in Bahraini airspace.
While the ICJ reviews the case, the ICAO will pause its current involvement in the matter.
No date has yet been set for that hearing.
But ICJ judges will over the next three days hear arguments from Doha’s lawyers, with the UAE to respond on Thursday. Both will talk on Friday.
The Arab Quartet severed diplomatic ties with Qatar on June 5 of last year.
The countries also severed trade and travel ties, closing their airspace to Qatari aircraft.
Diplomatic efforts have so far proved fruitless in resolving the crisis.
The dispute has hurt Doha-based Qatar Airways. Qatar has sent complaints to the International Civil Aviation Organization, a U.N. body, about the boycotting countries closing off their airspace, as well as violating the country’s airspace. The UAE has sent its own complaints as well, accusing Qatari military aircraft of flying dangerously close to Emirati planes.
Doha’s neighbours say the ball is in Qatar’s court to end the crisis.
It has been handed a list of 13 demands by its Gulf neighbours, including closing Al Jazeera, removing Turkish troops from the country and scaling back its cooperation with Iran, with which it shares the world’s largest gas field.
It has not met any of them.