15, August 2017
Saudi Arabia’s state television says the kingdom could shoot down the Qatari airliners potentially violating its airspace. Al Arabiya recently broadcast a short animation showing a missile strike by a Saudi warplane against a Qatari airliner.
Citing “international law,” a voiceover accompanying the production said, “A state that bans flights from entering its airspace has the right to deal with the violating plane in any way it wishes.” “The options in this case either take the form of deploying a fighter jet that forces the plane to land whereby the flight crew are then tried on several charges,” it said. “International law also allows states to shoot down any flight that violates a state’s airspace, classing it as a legitimate target, especially over military areas.”
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates cut their diplomatic ties and transport links with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of sponsoring terrorism. Doha rejects the claim. The boycotting countries also closed their airspace to flag carrier Qatar Airways. The airline has stopped using the airspace of those countries ever since, rerouting flights and using alternative paths, including through Iranian skies. The Saudi-led embargo has had an economic impact on Qatar. Trying to make up for lost revenue, Doha has said it would allow the citizens of 80 countries to travel to the country visa free.
Interior ministry official Mohamed Rashed al-Mazroui said the 80 countries had been selected on the basis of security and economic considerations, including for the buying power of their nationals. Doha says it would press the sanctioning countries to compensate for the economic damages arising from the embargo, but has also said it has enough financial resources at its disposal to weather the bans.