Saudi Arabia threatens to blow a Qatari passenger jet

A video showing a Saudi jet firing a missile at a Qatari passenger airliner has sparked outrage.

The animated footage is being used by the Gulf country’s state-owned broadcaster to explain to viewers what can legally be done if a Qatari passenger plane strays over its border.

One option, which it claims is permitted ‘under international law’, would be to shoot the airliner down.

Four countries in the Gulf region – Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE – closed their airspace to the tiny Gulf state at the beginning of June as part of a diplomatic and transport blockade.

The alliance accuses Qatar of supporting Arab extremism and cosying up to Iran, which it denies.

In the Al-Arabiya video, called ‘Understanding the Qatar Airways ban’, the voiceover commentary says the blockading countries have a choice about to do if their airspace is breached.

They can either dispatch a fighter plane to force the plane to land.

‘After which, its members may be prosecuted for several crimes, such as breaching national security and exposing civilians to danger,’ the video says, depicting a plane with the Qatar Airways logo.

The other option, it went on, was to ‘bring down any plane entering its atmosphere which is identified as an enemy target, especially in military bases, where Air Defense is unrestrained’.

A voiceover says that ‘according to international law, a state that bans flights from entering its airspace has the right to deal with the violating plane in any way it wishes’.

In this piece of footage, a missile is shown being fired towards a passenger plane, streaking over the top of it.

The last passenger plane to be shot down was Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 which hit by a surface to air missile fired by Russian-backed rebels over Ukraine in 2014, killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew on board.

Now on Twitter the Al Arabiya video is being widely condemned for suggesting violence against civilian passengers.

Air analyst Alex Macheras said: ‘It’s shocking that a news channel would think it’s acceptable to create and illustrate a passenger airline aircraft being blown out of the sky’.

Another tweet said: ‘Spreading terror into civilians is the goal which is the pure definition of terrorism.’

Ibtesam Al Emadi said: ‘Bombing a civilian plane!!! What is this called? Spreading terrorist thinking or not???’

‘Disgusting! How low they have fallen., said another.

Central to the Saudi-led blockade is the claim that the Qatar government is finding and supporting extremism.

But as one commenter on Twitter, called NOUF, pointed out: ‘After broadcasting the video and threatening to use violence, now who r the terrorists?’

The embargo has forced Qatar Airways to cancel 50 flights a day and import food from Iran and Turkey


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