The New Arab Bahrain claims Qatar territory as old border dispute is reignited

Bahrain made a claim for Qatari territory on Saturday as tensions between the two countries escalate amid a months-long blockade of Doha.

GCC members Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and non-member Egypt on June 5 severed ties with Qatar over accusations of supporting extremism and being too close to Shia rival Iran, charges Doha has denied.

On Saturday, a press release published on the state-run Bahrain News Agency said that “the Kingdom of Bahrain has every right to claim what was cut off forcibly from its land and to dispute the legitimacy of the Qatari rule on the northern territory”.

The statement refers to a historic border dispute over the Hawar Islands and the town of Zubara, which was resolved 16 years ago.

In 1991, Qatar referred the territorial dispute to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which in 2001 awarded Bahrain the Hawar Islands, while Qatar was given claim to Zubara and the Janan Islands.

Bahrain “has endured the intolerable and conceded many of its internationally documented historic rights in order to distance the GCC from bilateral differences”, the BNAstatement said, referring to the ruling.

After the creation of the GCC, Bahrain “agreed to postpone the claim of its rights, accepted the losses and gave up what it is rightfully hers in order to ensure the unity of the Gulf”, the statement added.

It is unclear whether Bahrain will take further action regarding the dispute

The statement comes as Bahrain stepped up punitive measures against Qatar this week as part of the ongoing blockade of Doha.

On Tuesday, Bahrain decided to impose visas on travellers from Qatar, violating GCC agreements which allow visa-free travel between citizens of countries in the six-state bloc.

A day earlier, Bahrain’s foreign minister said Qatar’s GCC membership should be suspended until it accepts the demands of its neighbours.

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