Qatar welcomed a decision by the UN’s top court Tuesday to back it in a dispute with Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over an air blockade against Doha. 

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) rejected an appeal by the four countries against the jurisdiction of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) over the dispute.

The court also ruled that the case was admissible and the air blockade violated the International Civil Aviation Convention.

“The ICJ’s decision was a great victory for Qatar and a slap against the blockading states,” Ahmed Bin Saeed Bin Jabor Al-Rumaihi, director of the Information Office of Qatar’s Foreign Ministry, told Anadolu Agency.

“The decision reflects the consistency in our position towards the blockading countries’ belittling international laws,” Al-Rumaihi added.

Abdulla bin Nasser Turki Al-Subaey, president of the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority, said on Twitter that Qatar has achieved a “historic victory” over the blockading states.

“With this ruling in our favor, we will complete the procedures for [filing] Qatari complaints with the ICAO, and by the grace of Allah, we will once again prove that these countries violated international agreements before the world,” he said.

Qatar’s Transport and Communications Minister Jassim Saif Ahmed Al-Sulaiti said his country is “confident that the ICAO will ultimately find these [blockading] actions unlawful.”

“This is the latest in a series of rulings that expose the blockading countries’ continued disregard for international law and due process. Step by step, their arguments are being dismantled and Qatar’s position is being vindicated.”

Meanwhile, Saudi ambassador to the Netherlands Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Abu Hamid and Bahrain’s non-resident ambassador to the Netherlands Fawaz bin Mohammed Al Khalifa issued statements regarding the court’s decision.

While both ambassadors noted that they respect the decision, they argued that the decision confirmed the ICAO’s jurisdiction but had no effect on the subject of the dispute or the basis of the complaint.

On June 5, 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt abruptly severed diplomatic relations with Qatar and imposed a land, sea and air blockade in hopes of making it comply with a long list of demands.

The four states accuse Doha of supporting terrorism, an allegation vociferously denied by Qatar, which describes the Saudi-led embargo as a violation of international law.

In 2018, the ICAO ruled that it had the authority to deal with a dispute brought by Qatar accusing its neighbors of violating a convention governing the free passage of its passenger aircraft across foreign airspace.

But Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE declined this decision and appealed to the ICJ to declare the ICAO’s decision “null and void.”

Over the past three years, Kuwait has been trying to resolve the rift but without success so far.

*Writing by Jeyhun Aliyev from Ankara

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