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Gulf air embargo only applies to Qatari companies, says UAE

Frederic Brown, AFP | File photo taken on March 21, 2017 shows a Qatar Airways aircraft coming in for a landing at Los Angeles International Airport.

The air embargo imposed on Qatar only applies to airlines from Qatar or registered there, the United Arab Emirates Civil Aviation Authority said Tuesday.

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Saudi Arabia and Bahrain issued identical statements on the air embargo, which came into effect when Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Manama broke off relations with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of supporting "terrorism".

The embargo bans "all Qatari aviation companies and aircraft registered in the state of Qatar" from landing or flying through the airspace of the Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, according to the statements published by the national agencies of the three countries.

The ban does not apply to aviation companies and aircraft not registered in Qatar and the three neighbouring countries, and even those which wish to cross their airspace to and from Qatar, they said.

The three countries' aviation bodies also said non-Qatari private and chartered flights from Qatar must submit requests to them at least 24 hours before crossing the airspace.

The request should include a list of names and nationalities of crews and passengers, and the cargo carried by the aircraft, they said.

Qatar asks UN body to rule the ban illegal

On Monday, Qatar Airways called on the UN's aviation body, the International Civil Aviation Organization, to declare the Gulf boycott illegal and a violation of a 1944 convention on international air transport, also called the Chicago Convention.

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker said the move by Saudi Arabia and its allies was an "illegal blockade".

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain are among several countries which last week announced the suspension of all ties to Qatar, over what they claim is the state's support for extremist groups and its political proximity to Shiite Iran.

Qatar’s isolation is a regional power play

Riyadh has insisted that closing its airspace to Qatari flights was within its sovereign rights to protect its citizens from any threat.

Responding to the Qatari appeal, the UAE General Aviation Authority said it is fully committed to the Chicago Convention, but the state reserves the sovereign right under international law to take any precautionary measures to protect its national security if necessary, according to UAE state news agency WAM.

Qatar has denied the allegations and has vowed to fight the air and sea blockades in international forums.

Furthermore, international human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have also slammed the Gulf states of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE for “toying” with the lives of thousands of ordinary citizens affected by the blockade.

The blockade is widely seen as a way to punish Qatar for its good relations with Tehran, as part of the larger struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

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