The United Arab Emirates said Qatari jets intercepted two Emirati civilian planes on flights to Bahrain.
Qatar has denied “completely false” claims by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that its fighter jets intercepted two Emirati passenger planes.
Monday’s allegations come amid mounting tensions in the Gulf as a blockade imposed on Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain entered its eighth month.
They are also following Qatar, which has filed two complaints with the United Nations for alleged violations of its airspace by Emirati military planes.
The United Arab Emirates state news agency WAM released the first interception report at midday on Monday.
Citing the country’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), the agency said Qatari fighter jets intercepted an Emirati civilian plane bound for Bahrain.
The GCAA condemned the The Qatari action has been alleged as “a flagrant and serious threat to the safety of civil aviation and a flagrant violation of international law,” according to the WAM report.
Later in the day, WAM noted a second airliner en route to Bahrain was also intercepted by Qatari fighter jets. He did not provide additional details of the encounters and did not name the carriers involved.
Qatar’s foreign ministry denied the request and said it would issue a detailed statement later.
The state of #Qatar announces that claims of Qatari fighter jets intercepting a UAE civilian plane are totally false. A detailed press release will follow.
– لولوة الخاطر Lolwah Alkhater (@Lolwah_Alkhater) Jan. 15, 2018
The U.S. Central Command, based at al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar, also has no report of incidents involving a commercial aircraft in the region, the Associated Press news agency said.
Describing the US command as an “independent” and “credible” source, Ibrahim Fraihat, political analyst at the Doha Institute, told Al Jazeera that the US military’s comment should be taken seriously.
The command “is a friend of both parties and has not taken sides so far,” he said. “It also has a strong military presence in the region and monitors the airspace nonstop.”
The latest developments were “dangerous,” Fraihat added, warning that they could escalate tensions in the Gulf.
The UAE’s claims could be “a response to the Qatari complaint of violations to the UN Security Council, or it could be part of the larger crisis, which has been at a standstill for months now,” he said.
“The stalemate actually hurts both parties. Usually, in conflict zones, parties wish to end the impasse and sometimes resort to such tactics.
The Gulf crisis began in June 2017 when the Saudi-led group accused Qatar of supporting “terrorism”.
They severed diplomatic relations with the small Gulf state, closed their airspace to flights belonging to Qatar and cut most commercial ties.
Doha has dismissed the claims and accused the Saudi Arabia-led group of trying to undermine its sovereignty.