Bahrain says it has decided to impose entry visas on nationals and residents of neighboring Qatar, which has been the center of a persisting crisis in the Persian Gulf region, triggered by a Saudi-led quartet of countries that accuse Doha of purported funding and supporting “terrorism.”
“The new measures aim at preventing harming the security and stability of the kingdom of Bahrain particularly in light of the latest repercussions of the crisis with Qatar”, said a statement released by the Bahraini government, carried by official news agency BNA, on Tuesday.
It further said that henceforth, those Qataris who want to visit Bahrain must first obtain a visa by “submitting an application in accordance with the instructions mentioned on the Nationality, Passport and Residence Affairs (NPRA) website.”
The new measure, according to the statement, was made in a cabinet session chaired by Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa in order to “preserve the security and safety of the country,” and will apply from November 10.
Under the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) agreements, citizens of the six member states, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), can visit other GCC countries without obtaining visas.
Manama’s decision came a day after the Bahraini king announced during a cabinet meeting that his country would not take part in any future GCC meeting if Qatar was to attend, accusing Doha of undermining the security of other GCC member states.
Back in June, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, and the UAE imposed a trade and diplomatic embargo on Qatar, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism, an allegation strongly denied by Doha.
The Saudi-led quartet presented Qatar with a list of demands and gave it an ultimatum to comply with them or face consequences. The demands included closing the Al Jazeera broadcaster, removing Turkish troops from Qatar’s soil, scaling back cooperation with Iran, and ending ties with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood movement.
Doha, however, refused to meet the demands and denounced them as unreasonable.
Iran has taken a neutral stance in the dispute but has sent food supplies to Qatar on humanitarian grounds amid the Saudi-led siege of the country. It has also allowed Qatar’s national carrier to use its airspace.