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Qatari emir sends condolences to UAE president despite diplomatic row

Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Ale Thani has sent condolences to Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Ale Nahyan, the President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), whose mother has died, despite a months-old diplomatic rift between the two Persian Gulf countries.

The emir, as cited by the Qatar News Agency (QNA), sent a cable to “His Highness President of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Ale Nahyan on the death of his mother, praying to Allah the almighty to have mercy on the soul of the late and make her residence in paradise.”

The diplomatic relations between Doha and Abu Dhabi significantly deteriorated after the UAE along with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt, the so-called quartet of Arab states led by Riyadh, severed their diplomatic relations with Qatar on June 5, 2017, accusing Doha of sponsoring “terrorism” and destabilizing the region.

The quartet has also imposed sanctions against Doha, including restrictions on Qatari aircraft using the airspace of the four countries. Amid the diplomatic crisis, Abu Dhabi has taken an especially tough line toward Doha. To further pressure Qatar, Saudi Arabia has totally closed its land border with its tiny neighbor, through which much of Qatar’s food supply crossed. Doha, however, rejects the claims, saying its sovereignty has been attacked.

Later in June that year, the four Arab countries urged Qatar to abide by a 13-point list of demands if it wanted the crippling blockade lifted. The demands included shutting down the Doha-based Al Jazeera broadcaster, scaling back cooperation with Iran, closing the Turkish military base in Qatar, and paying an unspecified sum in reparations. Qatar, however, firmly refused to comply, calling the wide-ranging demands “unrealistic, unreasonable and unacceptable.” In return, the four feuding countries vowed to impose further sanctions.

Tensions further escalated between Qatar and the UAE over alleged military overflights.

Earlier this month Qatar accused UAE military planes of repeatedly violating its airspace, prompting Doha on January 12 to lodge a complaint with the UN about an alleged violation of its airspace on December 21 by an Emirati military plane.

Doha also alleged a day later that a second Emirati warplane had violated Qatari airspace as it was traveling from the UAE to Bahrain on January 3 “without prior authorization.”

Bahrain and the UAE claimed that Qatari warplanes had harassed two civilian Emirati airliners.

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