Manama: Bahrain’s foreign minister has attributed the decision to impose entry visas on Qatar nationals and residents to the fact that several people coming from countries that sponsored terrorism had been given Qatari documents that allowed them to move across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) freely.
Nationals from the GCC countries — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — can travel across the council just by showing their ID cards while foreigners holding GCC residence permits are eligible for a visit visa on arrival.
Bahrain on Tuesday imposed visas on Qatar nationals and residents and said that the decision was to protect its security and preserve its stability.
“Qatar has facilitated the granting of visas and residency permits in contravention of its obligations to GCC regulations that ease the movement of residents between the GCC countries, which poses a security risk,” Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa posted on his Twitter account late on Wednesday.
“The [Bahrain] visas were not aimed at the people of Qatar, but rather at facilitating Qatar’s granting of visas and residency to citizens of countries sponsoring terrorism and extremism. The waiving of the Qatari visa [requirement] for the citizens of Lebanon, with due respect for the brotherly people of Lebanon, opened the door wide to the followers of the terrorist Hezbollah to enter Qatar and the GCC,” he posted to his 447,000 followers on the microblog.
In August, Qatar announced a scheme to allow visa-free entry for citizens of 80 countries, including Lebanon.
On June 5, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt severed their diplomatic and trade relations with Qatar accusing it of supporting and harbouring extremists and of funding terrorism.
Mediation efforts undertaken mainly by Kuwait have not so far achieved any breakthrough. Bahrain on Sunday said that it would boycott any GCC summit or meeting attended by Qatar.
The GCC leaders are scheduled to hold their annual summit in Kuwait in December, but reports have emerged that it could be postponed by six months, cancelled or shifted to another venue.
Shaikh Khalid in tweets on Sunday called for freezing Qatar’s membership in the alliance set up in May 1981 in Abu Dhabi.
Source – Gulf News