Hawar Islands (Qatar vs. Bahrain)

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Hawar Islands (Qatar vs. Bahrain)

Management of Claim

The international law is one of the complicated disciplines because it usually includes extremely controversial issues such as disputes about the territory and involvement of the third parties in a certain conflict. Taking this point into consideration, it is to be said that the following study lingers upon the discussion of the international law case between Qatar and Bahrain. The claim started in the ninth state of the United Arab Emirates in 1971. To be more exact, Bahrain and Qatar made a decision to separate from the United Arab Emirates and form each other, as well. In particular, the factual initiator of the separation was Qatar. Actually, the researchers currently observe the following reasons. As Zahalan (1984) suggests, the creation of Qatar addresses such issues as an ancient rivalry between Bahrain’s communities of al-Khalifas and local al-Thanis, which were struggling for the influence over the territory of the Qatari peninsula (Zubara area, especially); the relationship with Great Britain as the primary source of protectorate; a strive for tribal socio-economic foundation in the future Qatar; the overall transformations in the related statehood.

In fact, the main confrontation between al-Khalifs and al-Thains is not a single evidence of tribal influence in this claim. Actually, numerous tribes were demanding the separation of Qatar as a historic ownership of these tribes (Johnstone & Wilkinson, 1960). Surprisingly, it is not recommended to regard the tribal pressure as an obvious thwart of the UAE and Qatar as a separate state. To be more specific, tribal influence was particularly focused on the social layout and principles of economy management. In other words, the economic ownership is a matter of tribal powers. Subsequently, political aspect was a concern of the entire society. Still, it is necessary to emphasize that the tribal movement was the primary booster of the entire claim. In such a way, it was a social decision. On the contrary, every single tribe made this decision independently from others. Therefore, it was a natural outcome of the increasing tendency.

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Furthermore, the related legal proceedings were referring to these processes from the perspective of historic points, which are the following. Initially, Qatar consolidated the first agreement about control over Zubarah with Great Britain in 1868. With regard to the involvement of third parties, this agreement was re-established in 1937 with the second acknowledgement of Great Britain. Actually, it is a crucial point for proof of the tribal involvement. The agreement of 1937 confirmed the influence of Qatar over Zubarah and strictly disapproved the attempts of Bahrain to influence this process via al-Kalif pressure on the other tribes (Plant, 2002). In such a way, it is possible to admit that the government of Bahrain was using the tribal movement in order to take an action over Zubarah. Thus, it is pivotal to touch upon the relations between Bahrain government and local tribes.

As Bahri reports, the local tribes of Bahrain expressed the desire for constitutional reforms. As long as Bahrain was fully independent from Great Britain, such decision was made comparatively quickly. The government expected the tribes to obey their further politics, which presupposed the growth of governmental property ownership initially. The tribes kept expressing the idea of proactive behavior toward Qatar though. As a consequence, the government of Bahrain realized that it was not strong enough to obtain the power over tribal will (2000). Thus, they supported the tribes’ intention regarding Zubarah. 

Taking this point into account, it is worth admitting that the behavior of al-Khalif tribal community toward Zubarah was quite aggressive. Constant demands for taxation and radical actions of tribal irregular armed forces were the evidence of Bahrain’s ambitions regarding this territory. Doubtless, it was a sort of crisis for the entire confrontation. Therefore, as long as Qatar was under the protectorate of Great Britain, the royal armed forces intervened in the conflict. As a result, British forces expelled Bahrain influence from the territory and the agreement of 1937 was established (Evans, 2002). Still, a need for considering this crisis as a war is a matter of personal choice that is why this study does not give any account to this issue.

Speaking about the personal negotiations of both parties, it should be noted that none of them had a particular advantage over the opponent. Namely, the international status of both sides was quite vague. To be more specific, Qatar was supported by the United Kingdom but it did not belong to the group of Geneva Convention so that it could not demand the territorial sovereignty in terms of the international law. Subsequently, Bahrain did not have a sound reputation worldwide. Conversely, Qatar initiated the claim regarding the territorial ownership of Dibal and Qui’at Jaradah. In fact, the claim was internationalized because of Bahrain suggestion in 1987, which stated a wide range of changes and mutual responsibilities (Tanaka, 2003). Thus, it was the reason for the legal negotiating of the claim.

Concerning the involvement of the third parties’ diplomacy, it is to be said that it was generally a complicated aspect of the conflict. Actually, different parties attempted to make certain agreements on the Qatar-Bahrain confrontation. Needless to say, every single party was trying to achieve its own political goals. Hence, this study does not discuss them but just gives an account to its overall effect on the conflict. In such a way, The International Court of Law, Vienna Convention, the United Kingdom, and the United States were attempting to influence the conflict. Objectively, the U.S. diplomacy was the most successful because it had finally solved such prolonged claim even though the International Court of Law assumed that the U.S. had violated the principles of Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (Crook, 2002). Despite this evidence, the conflict ended. On the contrary, the involvement of third parties influenced a constant switch in territorial possessions. Thus, the sea boundary was the most unabated argument within the entire conflict. In fact, numerous factors rendered its complexity. One of the most dubious issues was the amendment of the boundary because of regular tides within this area (Paulson, 2001). Taking into account tribal pressure, the involvement of the USA and the UK, and little agreement on a so-called tidal boundary made the situation painfully unclear. Still, the problem was solved unexpectedly.

In fact, the problem was solved in 2001. The International Court of Justice made a decision to reward Bahrain with Hawar Islands and al-Jaradah and rewarded Qatar with Zubarah, the Janan Island, and al-Dabal (Wiegand, 2012). In such a way, one of the longest territorial disputes came to an end. With regard to the local disagreements about the decision, it should be noted that it was an exception rather than a common trend. Both parties supported the decision officially stating they were not going to obtain any other position. Instead, Qatar and Bahrain started the exploration of their new territories in order to discover oil resources. Needless to say, the rest of the United Arab Emirates and other states on the Gulf did not support these outcomes so confidently. As a result, certain degree of doubt emerged among many states because of obvious political and economic ambitions.

On the contrary, internal problems made the transitional period quite hard. First of all, Qatar had to settle the tribal harmony. It was becoming increasingly apparent that the state did not have any reliable political leader. Namely, all potential leaders were unwilling or inexperienced. At the same time, the state lost sufficient contacts with the United Kingdom so it resulted in the controversy about the law along the coast (Rahman, 2010). Conversely, Bahrain did not face such inner difficulties. It conducted elections, which established constitutional monarchy and the government was created. It even presupposed the female involvement, but none of female political activists won. What is more peculiar about Bahrain, it established the governmental layout, which the United Kingdom was striving for in Qatar. Doubtless, such outcome influenced the situation at the international arena. Still, Bahrain proved its legal right for a particular territory as long as it created the socioeconomic structure, which was commonly accepted by the majority of the third parties.

All in all, it is necessary to admit that the entire period of this dispute is quite complicated because of many factors. Some of them are quite obvious while the rest is a national secret of the involved states. Evidently, Qatar and Bahrain generally demonstrated their reasonable intentions to initiate their identities. Actually, it is the main reason not to consider some aggressive confrontations as a war. In the end, the tendencies for diplomatic solution of the conflict and willingness to international cooperation have made their impact on the confrontation. As a result, both parties received the reward, which they were striving for that is why the outcomes of the claim can be regarded as positive. Having covered the points of claim management, it is necessary to proceed to the next section.       

Geographic Influences on Claim Management

Speaking about geographic perspective of this conflict, it is increasingly difficult to ignore the natural resources of the territory, which were the object of the dispute. To start with, it is important to describe quite important resources of oil and gas in the area. In fact, Qatar Petroleum has been retrieving crude oil, associated gas, condensate and non-associated gas in Dukhan Field since 1949. This field is approximately 60 km long and 25 km wide. The recent estimation witnesses that reserves of crude oil are nearly 1, 842 barrels and 198 million of condensate gas (International Business Publications, 2008). Besides that, the territory includes all species of Gulf of Oman biodiversity. To be more specific, about 150 species, 50 of which are considered to be unique, inhabit the offshore area. To the broadest extent, it is 86, 500 m/tons of commercial species and 11, 300 non-commercial within Qatar Waters (Sivusabramaniam, 2003). In such a way, it is possible to admit that this area was worth such a protracted dispute because its natural value is quite obvious.   

As a consequence, this area obtains quite developed economy so that it can compete with the rest of the United Arab Emirates. In particular, it was one of the objectives for al-Khalif tribe. To be more precise, Qatar is one of the largest exporters of oil and gas. In fact, it comprises 7.4% of the entire amount, which is comparatively large for the small state. In contrast, the international recognition of this evidence has been estimated as quite low (Al-Khalifa & Aspinwall, 2006). Still, it is not a sound reason for Bahrain to deny the idea of Qatar territorial possession. By the same token, as it has been mentioned in the previous paragraph, a rich offshore biodiversity provides a meaningful basis for the external economic relations. Namely, Qatar can keep its economy at a sufficient level utilizing its natural resources. As a result, Qatar is a state with the highest economic growth within Gulf area. Actually, Qatar’s GPD is about $58, 000. Hence, it is needless to say that this region is an economic attraction not only for Bahrain but the third parties, as well.               

Even more, the causes of this conflict are far beyond geographic and economic considerations. To be more exact, the confrontation between Qatar and Bahrain is the dispute between the Western and Eastern worlds (Kruckeberg, 2002). As long as Qatar had a protectorate of the United Kingdom, it represented the political and global views of the Western world. Namely, Qatar considered the United Kingdom to be an example to follow and thus, relied on its support. In contrast, Bahrain was always striving for the tribal socioeconomic layout of the state. Hence, it represented the Eastern world. The outcomes are quite peculiar in this controversy. As it has been mentioned before, Qatar lost its close connections with the United Kingdom while Bahrain established a constitutional monarchy driven by tribal socioeconomic structure. In such a way, Bahrain proved the entire world that the Eastern world is capable of developing without the involvement of the Western countries. Therefore, Bahrain has to be regarded as an equal unit in terms of the global processes. Though, historical background of this dispute is also one of the soundest concerns for both parties.               

Needless to say, cultural perspective is quite profound in this conflict. First of all, Qatar has always claimed that its territory, including Zubarah and Janan Islands, is its historical territory. In particular, Qatar intended to separate from the United Arab Emirates. Doubtless, it has its cultural and historical identity, but it does not belong to the entirely separate culture. In other words, Qatar as well as Bahrain had more cultural and historic similarities with the United Arab Emirates rather than with any other nation or even ethnic group. Therefore, any concern about the historic identity is the matter of the third party’s politics. To put it in a simpler way, the encouragement to struggle for personal identity and uniqueness is quite a strong motivator. It is relatively apparent that such tendency might have occurred in Qatar when it was under protectorate of the United Kingdom. As for Bahrain, it did not express any of these concerns because it claimed that this territory belonged to it at the period when it was included into the Arab Emirates. Surprisingly, the territories were divided in a conversed way: Qatar received the area, which Bahrain had intended to obtain, and vice versa (Eunee & Lee, 2011).   

Eventually, regarding the salience of the obtained territories, it is pivotal to note the establishment of constitutional monarchy in Bahrain. As it has been discussed before, it was a significant event for the entire Eastern world. Namely, Bahrain proved the ability of the Eastern countries to establish their own socioeconomic and political relations without involvement of the Western world. In a similar manner, Bahrain developed a custom layout of the society: tribes rule the economy, the government regulates this and other processes, and the population is the primary source of law. In such a way, these are the three pillars, which constitute Bahrain as an independent state.

 As for Qatar, it developed its national economy even though it remained barely recognizable as an international partner for export deals. In fact, it reached the level of the highest GPD within Gulf area. Nowadays, it is a developing country, which needs international recognition in terms of economy. Doubtless, there is no reason to compare and estimate the salience of both states. Hence, it is to be admitted that Bahrain succeeded in political and social aspects while Qatar managed to boost its national economy considerably. All in all, these are main points regarding the geographic influences on the management of the claim.

Historical Influences on Claim Management

In regard to historical influences on the management of this claim, it is essential to note that the initial cause of the conflict was a subsequent desire of Qatar and Bahrain to separate from the Arab emirates. As soon as the separation had started, the territorial question emerged. Actually, it is possible to trace a profound intention toward to obtain the territory from both parties. In such a way, Qatar claimed that this area, especially Zubarah and Jana Islands, belonged to it historically, prior to the separation from the rest of the emirates. Probably, this assumption was boosted by the British protectorate. As long as the paper does not evaluate the political viewpoints regarding the claim, it is possible only to predict that such propaganda might have taken the place in Qatar during the conflict. Concerning the historical considerations of Bahrain, it is not possible to highlight them distinctively. It can be explained by its proactive behavior concerning the territories just because the tribes considered this territory to be Bahrain’s after the separation from the emirates. Doubtless, this issue seems to be unsolved because of the following facts. The major part of this territory is various islands and small gulfs so that it was quite hard to set the proper boundary. As it has been mentioned in the previous section, tides were the main difficulty for the boundary distinguishing. Likewise, the Arab emirates did not have particular boundaries between each other, either. Hence, there had been a little agreement on certain territorial belongings.

Speaking about the involvement of third parties, it is to be mentioned that their initial influence is not evident. To be more precise, the worldwide community is not aware of it because of quite known reasons. Anyway, there was no evidence of the initial third parties’ impacts on conflicting states . Though, it is important to mention the British protectorate of Qatar. Even more, when the aggressive confrontation escalated from the side of Bahrain, the United Kingdom intruded into the conflict in order to protect Qatar. One may argue that the United Kingdom was intending to achieve its own goals but it is worth saying that finally, there were no outcomes, which could be referred to as the British benefits. Besides that, the study observes the third party meaningful impact on the factual process of claim. Therefore, it is possible to assume that Qatar and Bahrain initiated the conflict on their own.      

Taking these points into consideration, it should be admitted that the aggressive scenario of the conflict was neglected. Actually, Bahrain invasion faced the confrontation with the royal armed forces so that the United Kingdom and Qatar initiated an agreement about the territorial positions in 1937. On the contrary, Qatar did not belong to the group of Geneva Convention so that it could not issue the claim for being attacked by al-Khalif tribe. What is more, the origin of Zubarah and the other territories is not clear enough to be rewarded to Qatar. Therefore, the British intervention should be regarded as a successful attempt to stop the armed confrontation. In contrast, Bahrain did not recognize the outcomes of agreement in 1937 though. In fact, there was no primary reason for Bahrain and Qatar to start the aggressive scenario. It is increasingly apparent that both states should have settled a peaceful agreement about the territorial possession as soon as they had separated from the rest of the Arab emirates. Thus, it should be admitted that the conflict was initially aggressively-driven but the intervention of the United Kingdom turned it into a peaceful direction. Still, the parties had been enduring the conflict for decades.     

To be more exact, a long period was quite unclear from the perspective of the international law. The agreement of 1937 did not stop Bahrain though. Hence, various political attempts did not succeed in obtaining international recognition while Qatar was unable to prove its historical rights for the problematic territory. Besides that, the agreement of 1937 was not sufficient for the international recognition because only the United Kingdom was acknowledged. Again, it is possible to refer the unwillingness of other countries to their plans to take influence over Qatar, as well. Though, it is the issue of politics that is why the study does not evaluate it and just gives an account to it as a matter of fact. As a result, Qatar initiated the official claim to the International Court of Justice in 1990 because the diplomatic intervention of the United States and the United Kingdom actually made situation quite unclear. In consequence, the International Court of Justice proclaimed American solutions to be improper ones because they violated numerous international regulations. Before the international official proceedings, both sides had attempted to settle the agreement several times, especially in 1986-1988. The lack of international involvement thwarted this process considerably though. Conversely, the international proceedings finally took place.

As a consequence, the claim made two major impacts on Qatar and Bahrain. First of all, the aggressive scenario was not developed. Doubtless, the intervention of the United Kingdom was a significant factor in the armed confrontation and was actually armed, as well. Still, both parties faced considerably fewer losses in comparison with a possible aggressive scenario. Needless to say, it prolonged the controversy for many years, but thousands of people survived. Nobody would deny that human lives were worth any protracted international claim. Probably, the escalation of aggressive confrontation might have involved the entire Gulf region in a potential war. Second, a protracted claim ended with positive outcomes for both parties. The influence of the third party was drastically low in the end as the International Court of Justice took the responsibility for the solution of the problem. Furthermore, Qatar and Bahrain obviously benefited from the outcomes of the claim. Qatar boosted its national economy, and Bahrain established its unique socioeconomic layout. In contrast, the territorial rewards were quite unexpected to both parties.  

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Finally, Qatar and Bahrain were given the territories, which were not the primary focus of both parties. As it has been mentioned in the preceding section, Qatar and Bahrain received territories, which the opposite party had tried to obtain. The decision is hard to justify, probably the International Court of Justice had noticed a particular interest of the third parties in the intended areas while Qatar and Bahrain just  for needed additional resources and capacities in order to underpin their sovereignty as independent states. In such a way, the division of the territories was not the desired result of the third party. Doubtless, secret intentions of other countries are not apparent, but Qatar and Bahrain managed to secure themselves from external influences. One may assume that the support of the United Kingdom was essential for Qatar. It is certainly true regarding the confrontation in 1937, but nowadays, Qatar and Bahrain are quite thriving countries, which have underpinned their right to be regarded as equal participants of the global processes. All in all, these are the main points regarding the historic influence on the management of the claim.