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ICAO deals a blow to Bahrain, in historic win to Qatar

The International Aviation Organization (ICAO) dealt a severe blow to Bahrain after Qatar’s proposal to redraw and expand its air borders.

With this decision, Doha scored a new historic victory in a legal battle against its neighbour Bahrain, which has continued to receive political and diplomatic blows since the signing of the Gulf reconciliation agreement last January.

Bahrain, which says it manages airspace under an agreement with Qatar, and three other Arab states severed political, trade and transport links with Doha in 2017.

An analyst specializing in aviation affairs, Alex Macheras, said that the decision is a historic victory for the State of Qatar.

He added that “the re-demarcation and expansion of the Qatari airspace will include areas near the borders of neighbouring countries such as the UAE, Iran and Bahrain, where for decades, Bahrain had a vast airspace that it obtained after its independence, which in recent years has been a major factor in restricting Qatar during the blockade period.”

Macheras added that after Qatar establishes the FIR, it will include part of Bahrain’s airspace in its airspace.

The Ministry of Communications and Information of Qatar announced the approval in principle by the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to establish the Doha Aviation Information Region and the Doha Search and Rescue Region.

This includes Qatar’s sovereign airspace and another adjacent airspace over the high seas.

Qatar’s proposal also included its intention to withdraw from the current arrangement under which Bahrain was assigned the task of providing air navigation services over its sovereign territory under paragraph (1.1.2) of Annex (11) of the Chicago Convention.

The Council acknowledged the right of the State of Qatar to request the establishment of the Doha Aeronautical Information Region and the Doha Search and Rescue Region over its sovereign territory and the airspace above it, according to Article (1) of the Chicago Convention and under Annex (G) by General Assembly Resolution No. (40-4).

The decision that did justice to Qatar came during the 223rd session of the ICAO Council meetings, which was held on June 18.

Through its proposal, the State of Qatar aims to support the development of safe and sustainable air transport operations in the region, which enhances its commitment to the global aviation sector.

In addition, the Council stressed that “the introduction of amendments to the regional air navigation plan is a matter that depends on good relations, cooperation and mutual respect among countries, and that these factors are essential to provide smooth services while ensuring the highest level of safety and quality.”

It should be noted that the Air Navigation Committee, through its review of the technical aspects of the proposal, confirmed that the State of Qatar possesses the capabilities and ingredients necessary to manage air traffic safely and effectively and to provide pioneering services in the field of search and rescue.

ICAO called on Bahrain and Qatar – along with neighbouring countries with interest in this issue – to start a cooperative dialogue under the auspices of the Chairman of the Council to agree on the appropriate technical arrangements for the implementation of the Doha Aeronautical Information Region and the Doha Search and Rescue Region.

And presenting the results of these discussions to the Council at its 224th session to approve the amendment of the Air Navigation Plan (Middle East Region).

For decades, Bahrain had vast airspace that it acquired after its independence, which in recent years has been a major factor in restricting Qatar during the siege period.

After establishing Qatar’s FIR, it will include part of Bahrain’s airspace in its airspace.

ICAO cannot impose rules on states, but regulators from its 193 member states adopt and apply the organization’s aviation standards in almost all cases.

On the fifth of last January, Bahrain signed with Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE after a summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries in the Saudi city of Al-Ula, a statement of reconciliation with Qatar after a boycott that lasted more than three and a half years.

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