(Photo Credit: AP)
During a parliamentary session on 31 January, Bahraini Minister of Transportation and Telecommunications Mohammed al-Kaabi announced that direct flights between Bahrain and Qatar are set to resume “soon.”
Kaabi said that both sides had reached an agreement between the civil aviation authorities, adding that the “scheduling matter” is still under review, signifying the initial steps for Doha and Manama to normalize relations.
Bahraini News Agency (BNA) reported that King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa expressed the necessity to resolve such issues with Qatar, saying “in order to achieve the common aspirations of their citizens, preserve the cohesion of the GCC, and safeguard the region’s security and stability.”
Qatar excluded Bahrain from the 2022 World Cup, as flights between the two Arab states remained suspended.
On 26 January, Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani held a phone conversation with Bahrain’s crown prince to discuss resolving their country’s political “differences.”
“It was also agreed that officials from both countries will continue to communicate to achieve common goals,” BNA’s readout of the call added.
Bahrain cut ties with Qatar on 5 June 2017, following Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, over Doha’s support for extreme militant groups in the region, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, Iranian-backed groups, and Al-Qaeda. However, experts suggest that the collective severing of ties with Qatar was mainly accredited to pressure from Saudi Arabia.
Bahrain blamed Qatar’s “media incitement, support for armed terrorist activities, and funding linked to Iranian groups to carry out sabotage and spreading chaos in Bahrain” for its decision.
Bahrain also reportedly blamed Qatar for allegedly launching a cyber attack against the Twitter account of Bahrain’s former foreign minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa.
In June 2022, UAE National Security Adviser Tahnoun bin Zayed Al-Nahyan met with Qatar’s Emir to discuss the advancement of bilateral relations and several regional developments of common interest, days after Doha’s Emir visited Egypt for the first time since 2015.