Qatar denies it intercepted UAE civilian aircraft, blames UAE military plane

By Middle East Affairs

After United Arab Emirates accused Qatar of intercepting its civilian plane, Qatar denied the allegations on Monday, saying a UAE military plane had been violating Qatari’s airspace at the time.

UAE state news agency WAM reported Sunday that the United Arab Emirates claimed Qatari fighter jets intercepted a civilian aircraft on its way to Bahrain.

The plane, with 86 passengers aboard, had to maneuver around the fighter jets to avoid a collision, the agency quoted UAE’s civil aviation authority as saying.

However, the Qatari civil aviation authority was also quoted by state news agency as claiming that military planes were on a routine flight when a UAE military plane entered Qatari air space without permission and in the same area as the UAE civilian plane.

“The United Arab Emirates has unfortunately been manipulating the facts to inflame and mislead the international community. The latest statement is proof of this,” it said.

Both countries have accused each other of a series of mid-air incidents since travel, diplomatic and trade sanctions were placed on Qatar in June by several of its regional neighbors.

Saudi Arabia initiated the boycott, which also gained the participation of Egypt and Bahrain, as well as UAE. The four countries accuse Qatar of having ties to terrorist groups, which Qatar denies and, furthermore, claims they only want to minimize its sovereignty.

Earlier this week, officials confirmed that Qatar had taken part in joint military exercises with its Gulf Arab neighbors and the United States, signaling potential compromise.

A Qatari military statement reported on by Reuters did not “provide details about the size of the Qatari contingent that took part in the Gulf Shield exercises” from March 21 to April 16.

However, an official from one of the 23 participating countries told reporters that Qatar had sent one ship with nine officers to join the drills, while seven other officers were observing.

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