Just when it seemed as though Qatar and Bahrain were due to reach an amicable resolution to their lingering border dispute, high-level official accusations from both sides escalated this neighborhood row. Bahrain’s Foreign Minister expressed his regret over Qatar’s failure to respond to the Minister’s suggestion to attend a joint higher committee meeting on the disputed islands of Hawar and Fashat al-Dibble. Qatar’s counterpart reacted by describing Bahrain’s statement as provocative. The two Gulf neighbors will now wait for the International Court of Justice’s ruling.
Earlier this year, both states expressed their satisfaction over the budding progress in mutual relations. In mid-April, the two nations exchanged ambassadors and appeared to be on a path towards complete normalization and enhanced cooperation in a variety of domains. The two sides went so far as to enter into negotiations concerning a gas supply agreement within the framework of a planned Qatar to Kuwait gas pipeline.
On the domestic front, the case involving plotters of a foiled 1996 coup attempt ended with the February sentencing of the cousin of the Emir, along with 32 others, to life imprisonment for their role in planning the coup. A panel of three judges found former economy minister and police chief Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Hamad al-Thani guilty of masterminding the plot to overthrow his cousin, Shiekh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani.