Qatar detains sailors onboard Bahraini vessel after breach

Qatar detains sailors onboard Bahraini vessel after second breach in weeks
2 min read
13 December, 2020
Three sailors were detained after a Bahraini vessel breached Qatar's territorial waters on Saturday, authorities confirmed.
The vessels were detained by Qatar's coastguard [Getty]
Qatar detained a Bahraini vessel that was allegedly found illegally fishing within its territorial waters, authorities said on Saturday.

Three sailors onboard the Bahraini vessel were arrested by Qatar’s coastguard for trespassing into its waters.

Two of the three sailors were from an unspecified Asian country and one was a Bahraini national, local daily Doha News reported.

Last month, two Bahraini boats breached Qatari territorial waters, Doha's interior ministry claimed in a statement.

At the time, the it was seen as a rare incident in the ongoing Gulf crisis which has pitted a Saudi-led alliance against Doha.

Bahrain insisted however that the two vessels, part of its coastguard fleet, had been wrongfully intercepted.

Bahrain, along with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt, have imposed an air, naval and land embargo on Qatar since June 2017 over their insistence Doha is too close to Iran and radical Islamist groups. Qatar denies the charges.

Under the diplomatic and economic embargo, none of the boycotting countries permit their maritime vessels into Qatari waters. They uphold similar bars on their nations' aircraft and locally-registered vehicles.

The spat mostly plays out in official statements and through online and media proxies, and real-world incidents have been rare.

Bahrain did not state whether its vessels had strayed into Qatari waters but added it would report the incident to the Gulf Cooperation Council regional bloc of which both countries are members.

In the early days of the Gulf dispute in 2017, the Qatari coastguard seized 15 Bahraini fishing boats, alleging they had been operating illegally in the emirate's waters.

Qatar had a longstanding territorial dispute with Bahrain over the waters and small islands that separate the peninsula from the main islands of its maritime neighbour which was only resolved by the International Court of Justice in 2001.

However, both of the latest incidents come as countries involved in the three-year long Gulf dispute have made promising movements to end the crisis.

As the countdown to the annual Gulf Cooperation Council summit nears, a much-anticipated reconciliation between members is expected to take place.

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