Qatar has filed a complaint with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) against the siege countries using their satellite TV channels to intimidate passengers flying Qatar Airways.
Qatar’s Permanent office at the ICAO in Montreal handed an official message from Qatar to the organisation’s Secretary-General, Board President and representatives of member states, which highlighted the violations of the blockading countries aimed at intimidating air passengers through their TV channels.
Al Arabiya TV, based in Dubai, aired a TV report which claimed right of the siege countries to shoot down any Qatar Airways passenger aircraft if it flew into their airspace, containing an animation of downing of a Qatari Airways passenger plane, the QNA said.
Qatar said “this televised report constitutes a clear and serious violation of international treaties and conventions, particularly the 1944 Chicago Convention, the international air traffic service agreement and international air law”.
Yesterday, in a statement the Ministry of Transport and Communications explained that the TV report contained a 3-D presentation that included a voice comment stating that international law gave the siege countries the right to down any aircraft that entered its airspace as a hostile target, especially in military areas, where air defence is unrestricted.
Al Arabiya TV report also claimed that according to international law, “a state that prohibits flying over its airspace can down any aircraft entering its airspace”. It also explained possible options, such as forcing the plane to land and prosecuting its crew on several charges, including compromising national security and endangering human lives.
After pointing out that animation it has been widely circulated in the international media as well as on social media. The ministry added that the report has been highly criticised by legal and civil aviation experts. The passengers were also terrorized by the report.
Issa Abdullah al-Maliki, a representative of Qatar, has demanded ICAO to take the necessary steps to remind all member-states of their obligations towards the security and safety of aviation under international law as well as international ethics.
The footage emerged just weeks after Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar after accusing it of supporting Islamist extremist groups. Doha has vehemently denied the allegations.
The UK-based Independent stated that the viewers believed that the simulated video shown by Al Arabiya was meant to scare off would-be passengers from flying with Qatar’s national airline.
Some aviation experts dismissed the graphic animation as “sensationalist” and pointed out that aircraft from Qatar have a “legitimate” right to fly in the skies over Saudi Arabia.
In the social mediathe graphic animation is described as a warning by Saudi Arabia to passengers who fly with Qatar Airways.
Abby wrote: “Putting out this video is beyond provocative. It’s intended to make people worry about flying Qatar for fear of a navigation error costing them their life. You don’t make this video without a point.”
John Harper pointed out “the political implication of a state sanctioned news channel airing a graphic with a missile directed” at the Airbus.
Aviation analyst Alex Macheras said it was “irresponsible and unprofessional” for the Saudi network to air the graphic animation but said it had not been taken seriously in the Gulf region.
He told The Independent: “The video was full of inaccuracies, and I think it has more to do with a sensationalist approach to covering the Gulf crisis by Al Arabiya, than a real ‘threat’ from Saudi Arabia.
“It was irresponsible and unprofessional of the network to air such a report – and passengers flying in the Middle East region should have no fear or worry about the safety of their aircraft.”
He added: “Qatar’s reaction has been mostly with humour and wit. It’s a report that has more of a Hollywood appeal, rather than truth and reality. On the whole, this Al Arabiya report hasn’t been taken seriously, and I think that’s for the best.”