Tunisia suspended flights by Emirates following a public criticism over security measures in the United Arab Emirates targeting Tunisian women. The country’s transport ministry said it had suspended Emirates flights to Tunis until the airline company finds a proper solution that will be “in accordance with international law and agreements”.
A few Tunisian women said during their travel to the Gulf state with Emirates that they had been delayed and some had to undergo additional examination of their visas. “We contacted our Tunisian brothers about security information that necessitated taking specific procedures,” Anwar Gargash, the UAE foreign minister, tweeted. “We should avoid misleading attempts … We highly value Tunisian women and respect them,” he added but did not elaborate further.
Tunisia asked the UAE ambassador to explain the situation but the envoy said that the decision was implemented just for a short period of time and the restrictions had been removed. Despite the explanation, Tunisian rights groups condemned the measures as “discriminatory and racist”. Tunis had been trying to fix diplomatic relations with the UAE, which were damaged by the 2011 Arab Spring revolution. Moreover, the ties worsened after the Islamic party al-Nahda, which has strong relations with Qatar, came to power in the North African country.
Qatar diplomatic crisis started in June 2017 when Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt withdrew their ambassadors from the small Gulf country and imposed trade and travel bans. This latest crisis could be also seen as an escalation of the wider Qatar-Saudi Arabia proxy conflict. Riyadh cited Qatar’s support of terrorism as the main reason for their actions, insisting that Qatar has violated a 2014 deal with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).