RIYADH: Qatar released three Bahrainis on Thursday who were arrested at sea while on a fishing trip.
Sami Ibrahim Al-Haddad — a body building champion — and his friend Mohammed Yousef Al-Dossari were arrested on Jan. 8 by Qatar’s coastal and border security. Manama said they were in Bahrain’s territorial waters at the time.
The release was “based on the Cabinet’s directives to the Ministry of Interior to undertake all necessary measures to expedite the release of all citizens detained by Qatar and return them to Bahrain,” Bahrain’s interior ministry said.
However, the ministry added that their boats are still being held by Qatar.
Qatari authorities also released Habib Abbas, a Bahraini fisherman who was arrested in a separate incident on Dec. 3
The interior ministry said this brings the total number of boats that Qatar has confiscated so far to 50.
The three men were returned to Bahrain via Oman, the kingdom’s embassy in the sultanate confirmed.
“Upon their arrival to Bahrain, their statements will be taken at the General Directorate Criminal Investigation and Forensic Science to find out the circumstances of their arrest, in order to take the necessary legal measures in this regard,” the ministry said.
The ministry said late Sunday that the kingdom “strongly condemned the Qatari coast guard’s arrest of Bahraini bodybuilding champion Sami Al-Haddad while he was on a fishing cruise with a number of his companions in the Bahraini territorial waters,” the ministry said late Sunday.
It also said that Manama had “called on the Qatari authorities to immediately release…Haddad and his companions, and to stop attacking Bahraini fishermen at sea and unfairly arresting them.”
Bahrain was one of four nations, along with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt, to announce they had ended a three-year rift with Qatar on Jan. 5 at a GCC summit in AlUla, formally reestablishing diplomatic ties.
Manama reopened its airspace with Doha on Jan. 11 and Bahrain’s foreign minister invited a Qatari delegation to visit the kingdom as soon as possible to start discussions over outstanding issues of common interest. 

TEHRAN: Iran fired cruise missiles Thursday as part of a naval drill in the Gulf of Oman, state media reported, amid heightened tensions with the US
State TV showed footage of missiles being launched from both land units and ships at sea but didn’t elaborate on their range or other details. In July, Iran said it test-fired cruise missiles with a range of some 280 kilometers (some 275 miles).
“Enemies should know that any violation and invasion of Iranian marine borders will be targeted by the cruise missiles from both coast and sea,” said Adm. Hamzeh Ali Kaviani, spokesman for the exercise.
The two-day drill began Wednesday when the country’s navy inaugurated its largest military vessel. The exercise takes place amid heightened tensions over Iran’s nuclear program and a US pressure campaign against the Islamic Republic.
In recent weeks, Iran has increased its military drills. On Saturday, the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard held a naval parade in the Arabian Gulf and a week earlier Iran held a massive drone maneuver across half the country.
President Donald Trump in 2018 unilaterally withdrew the US from Iran’s nuclear deal, in which Tehran had agreed to limit its uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. Trump cited Iran’s ballistic missile program among other issues in withdrawing.
Following the US’s re-imposition of sanctions on Iran, Tehran gradually and publicly abandoned the deal’s limits on its nuclear development as a series of escalating incidents pushed the two countries to the brink of war at the beginning of the year.


Soleimani’s shadow
Qassem Soleimani left a trail of death and destruction in his wake as head of Iran’s Quds Force … until his assassination on Jan. 3, 2020. Yet still, his legacy of murderous interference continues to haunt the region