Qatar hits back at UAE at The Hague

Gulf states locked in battle at UN’s top court where UAE asking judges to stop Qatar ‘aggravating’ two-year diplomatic crisis.

THE HAGUE - Qatar accused the United Arab Emirates Wednesday of a "campaign of violence and hatred" against its citizens, urging the International Court of Justice to quash a case brought by Abu Dhabi.

The Gulf states are locked in a battle at the UN's top court, where the UAE on Tuesday asked judges to stop Qatar "severely aggravating" a two-year-old crisis between Doha and other countries in the oil-rich region.

Qatar's lawyers however hit back, saying in fact it was Abu Dhabi who continued with "discriminatory policies that severely impacted Qatari citizens."

"It is the Qatari people who are the true victims in the racial discrimination case, not the government of the UAE," Qatar's representative Mohammed Abdulaziz Al-Khulaifi said.

This included Abu Dhabi's move to gag the Doha-based and state-funded Al Jazeera global news network, which was accused of spreading "propaganda", the lawyer told the Hague-based tribunal.

"The silencing of... media voices is part-and-parcel of the UAE's campaign to incite violence and hatred against Qataris," Khulaifi said.

Qatar has faced an economic and diplomatic boycott since June 2017 by Gulf rivals who accused Doha of backing terrorism and being too close to regional rival Iran.

Doha has repeatedly denied the claims, accusing its rivals of seeking regime change and alleging the UAE broke the 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

Last June, in a case brought by Qatar, the ICJ ruled that the UAE must allow families which include Qatari members to be reunited, and that Qatari students must be given the chance to complete their education in the Emirates.

But in a tit-for-tat case, the UAE accused Tuesday Qatar of blocking a key website and using its state-controlled news channels and fake documents to hamper Abu Dhabi's own efforts to obey the order.

The Emiratis also accused Qatar of backing terrorist groups including the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda, echoing one of the original allegations by the Gulf allies against Doha.

"Qatar has continued to aggravate the dispute and make it more difficult to resolve," Hissa Abdulla Ahmed Al-Otaiba, the UAE ambassador to the Netherlands.

Khulaifi parried those claims on Wednesday, saying that Qatar found a "high risk security breach" on the UAE's website including so-called "malware" designed to infiltrate Qatar's information systems.

He said Doha told Abu Dhabi about the breach but the UAE was "yet to take steps."