Tunisia tries to defuse tension with UAE amid airline spat

Tunisia tries to defuse tension with UAE amid airline spat

TUNIS, Tunisia — Tunisia tried to smooth out emerging tensions with the United Arab Emirates on Monday after Emirates airline barred Tunisian women from boarding its flights and the North African country responded by suspending the Dubai-based carrier’s operations in the air and on the ground.

The spokeswoman for the Tunisian presidency dismissed any notion of a “diplomatic crisis” between the two countries, expressing Tunisia’s “understanding” of a decision made by the UAE’s government to “protect its territory and its airlines.”

After the Emirates’ decision caused an outcry in Tunisia, the presidential spokeswoman had to speak publicly on a radio station to explain that the ban targeting Tunisian women followed alleged serious threats of attacks.

The spokeswoman, Saïda Garrach, said the UAE’s authorities explained that they made the decision following “serious security information” about alleged plans for attacks by Tunisian women, or women with Tunisian passports, from “tense hotbeds” in Syria and Iraq.

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash tweeted that the ban was temporary and due to security reasons.

In a later written statement, Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi “called for overcoming these problems as soon as possible to preserve the relations of brotherhood and co-operation between the two peoples of Tunisia and UAE.”

But Caid Essebsi said Tunisia will maintain the suspension of all flights by Emirates to and from Tunis until the UAE’s government reconsiders its ban. He stressed the need to preserve the dignity of all Tunisian citizens in the country and abroad and to protect the rights of Tunisian women in all circumstances.

Tunisia summoned UAE’s ambassador on Friday following Emirates’ ban.

Speaking on Shems FM radio, Garrach, the Tunisian presidential spokeswoman, said the UAE decided on the targeted ban “swiftly, without notifying the Tunisian authorities and even their own ambassador in Tunis,” given the “seriousness” of the information they held. While “understanding” the Emirati move, she said the way the UAE proceeded was “unacceptable” and required a “quick reaction” from Tunis.

In an apparent attempt to ease Tunisians’ discontent, Gargash, the Emirati minister of state, tweeted that the UAE values Tunisian women and their “exemplary empowerment.”

The barring of Tunisian women has caused anger among rights groups and political parties in Tunisia. In a joint statement, three rights groups described the UAE’s move as “a violation of the basic rights of Tunisian women and agreements on the free movement of people.”

A small protest was held outside the UAE Embassy in Tunis in the afternoon. Protesters called the decision “discriminatory” and “a humiliation to Tunisian women.”

Since Friday, several Tunisian women have been barred from boarding Emirates flights in Tunis, Abu Dhabi and Beirut.

Bouazza Ben Bouazza, The Associated Press

Just Posted

Two Rocky Mountain House men face drug charges after traffic stop

Men were pulled over by RCMP on Hwy 11 near Condor on Oct. 11

Canadian annual inflation rate 1.9% last month as lower gas prices weigh on rate

OTTAWA — The annual inflation rate was 1.9 per cent in September… Continue reading

China’s Huawei reports sales gain despite US sanctions

BEIJING — Chinese tech giant Huawei on Wednesday reported a double-digit gain… Continue reading

Alberta introduces legislation to modernize ranch fees, grazing leases

EDMONTON — Alberta is modernizing the rent and fees ranchers and cattle… Continue reading

Pot use admission at U.S. border snagging Canadian boomers, says lawyer

VICTORIA — Canadians wanting to cross the U.S. border are being asked… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Wednesday Red Deer River Naturalists Flower Focus Group Meeting. When: Oct. 16… Continue reading

Opinion: Alberta gets it right when it comes to selling pot

This week marks the first anniversary of Canada’s recreational cannabis legalization. It’s… Continue reading

Don’t be so sure a Conservative vote will bring change

Re: “Dangerous talk from Singh,” David Marsden, Opinion, Oct. 15. It is… Continue reading

Michael Dawe: 50 years later, everyone still gushes over a modern school

Friday, Oct. 4, the new Westpark Middle School officially opened. This very… Continue reading

Davies, Cavallini score as Canada men end 34-year winless run against U.S.

TORONTO — After years of watching from the cheap seats as the… Continue reading

Strong off-season has Canada’s Moore-Towers and Marinaro feeling optimistic

The Canadian figure skating scene underwent a dramatic change last season after… Continue reading

Country singer Dallas Harms, who helped jump-start Ronnie Hawkins’ career, dies at 84

TORONTO — Canadian country singer Dallas Harms, who sparked a number of… Continue reading

Most Read