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Qatar likely to be affected by an escalation between the US & Iran

The airspace confrontation between the United States and Iran last week has reportedly caused major hindrance for the airlines operating in the region, particularly for Qatar Airways.

Qatar

News Desk |

Several flights were subjected to a reschedule, reroute or cancellation when Iran shot down a US military’s surveillance drone that had allegedly violated the Iranian airspace.

Qatar is particularly most likely to be affected by the situation as it continues to be under a Saudi-Emirati led blockade and under a subsequent airspace ban by its immediate neighbours.

The Blockade on Qatar

In June 2017, Qatar was hit by a brutal diplomatic crisis when Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, the Maldives, Mauritania, Senegal, Djibouti, the Comoros, factions in Libya and Hadi-led Yemen, severed their economic and political relations with the State of Qatar.

The airlines then had to reroute its flights over Iran, Oman and Turkey, as being in the middle of the blockading states in its neighbourhood it required alternative routes nearby.

A three-legged blockade was imposed on the tiny Peninsula that restricted its airspace and sea route operations, in addition to a completely restricted land crossing. The Saudi-dominated axis had accused Qatar of violating the 2014 agreement of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) by supporting Islamist groups including the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah.

Saudi Arabia had also accused Qatar for using Al-Jazeera, a Qatari based news agency, to report the kingdom’s human rights abuses in the region. In addition to these allegations, the Saudi-led Gulf bloc had reservations with Qatar for its cordial ties with Iran, a Saudi-arch rival. Qatar has consistently denied all accusations of funding terrorism imposed on it by the Gulf neighbourhood.

Read more: Qatar blockade just strategy to maintain hegemony over Middle East?

As a result of the 2017 blockade, Qatar reportedly suffered a $30 billion loss when all its neighbouring states withdrew their capital investments from Qatari banks. In what is known to be the worst crisis in Gulf, Qatar reached a historic low in its current account, the balance of payments and currency devaluation.

The Air Space Debacle

The airspace debacle began soon after the Saudi-led collation announced the decision to impose a blockade over the tiny Gulf state with no prior notice or warning in place. It is reported that the airways had endured a loss of $69 million as a result of the air blockade imposed over the country. The airlines annual reports revealed a sharp decline in revenue generation and a 19 percent decrease in customer departure.

Qatar is particularly most likely to be affected by the situation as it continues to be under a Saudi-Emirati led blockade and under a subsequent airspace ban by its immediate neighbours.

In addition to the monetary loss, Qatar lost access to 18 cities in the countries that had imposed the blockade. The airlines then had to reroute its flights over Iran, Oman and Turkey, as being in the middle of the blockading states in its neighbourhood it required alternative routes nearby.

Read more: Qatar finds a way around blockade: Witnesses GDP growth

How is Qatar Airways likely to be affected by the Iran-US escalation?

Qatar, being in the middle of the Persian Gulf geographically, is most likely to cause hindrance in its operations if a full-scale escalation takes place between the two arch-rivals, Iran and the US. Qatar continues to be under a blockade imposed by its Gulf neighbours and hence remains under a strictly imposed air-space blockade as well.

Its alternative airspace route, i.e. Iran, is likely to be difficult to access if an armed conflict is escalated. Therefore, Iranian airspace remains crucial for the operations of the tiny Gulf state.

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