In the Dutch capital of The Hague, lawyers for the Government of Qatar have sought to use the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to have the quartet of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt to reverse their coordinated sanctions on Doha over its failure to comply with its previously agreed commitments to fight terrorism and the spread of extremism across the greater Gulf region.
Naturally, the World Court, as it is popularly known, has far more pressing legal challenges facing its jurists, and for the Government of Qatar to now turn to the ICJ as a legal remedy to end a situation entirely of its own making, borders on the absurdity of jurisprudence.
The court heard that the shutting of the sea and air spaces to vessels and aircraft registered in Qatar, along with other diplomatic measures implemented by the anti-terror quartet, were together causing economic hardship to Qataris and, in a stretch both of credibility and legal reasoning, Doha claimed that the measures were tantamount to discrimination.
Clearly, given the flawed nature of their suit, it is one without merit, is a waste of the valuable time and resources of the World Court, and amounts to a misuse of process, a mischaracterisation of facts and a miscellany case without merit or proper standing in the chambers of the ICJ. In simple terms, it is a waste of both time and effort.
The reality is that the situation that Qatar finds itself in now — being isolated diplomatically, financially and unable to use the air and sea spaces of the quartet — is entirely of its own making.
It is now well over a year since these measures were put in place, and over that time, Qatar has continued to use its state-propaganda arm at Al Jazeera to spread falsehoods and to give voice to organisations that spread sedition in the guise of informed debate.
Over these past 13 months, too, fighter jets from Qatar’s air force have buzzed passenger planes from both the UAE and Bahrain in acts of blatant intimidation, putting the safety of all on board these aircraft at risk.
These flagrant acts of malfeasance are now being raised by the UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Egypt in the chambers of the ICJ. That is a far more pressing issue, one that has legal merit, requires judicial address and is a clear breach of international legislation and agreements and — unlike Qatar’s diversion — is a good use of the court’s time.