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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Thursday, October 18, 2018


Bahrain and UAE want to compete at Qatar 2015 Men’s World Handball Championships after all

World Championships in Qatar

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Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have informed the International Handball Federation (IHF) they wish to abandon their respective withdrawals from the 2015 Men's World Championships in Qatar.
In a statement, the IHF confirmed the two federations have each "expressed their preparedness and wish to participate", adding that a decision over whether this is permitted will be made at an IHF Council meeting in Herzogenaurach, Germany on Friday (November 21). 
This intriguing u-turn comes days after the two nations announced plans to skip the event in what was widely interpreted as a political boycott of their Gulf neighbour, although no specific reasons were given. 
Political tensions between Qatar and three of its fellow Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, have become increasingly strained in recent times due to Qatar's perceived support of Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East.
The three nations withdrew their Ambassadors from Qatar in March amid claims that Doha had not implemented an agreement among Gulf Arab countries not to interfere in each others' internal affairs.
On Saturday (November 15), the UAE declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation, following a stance taken by Bahrain earlier this month.
But following a crisis meeting the following day in Saudi capital Riyadh, where Qatar were represented by Emir and International Olympic Committee member Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, a compromise was found to move forward.

The three ambassadors have returned to their posts, with a GCC statement issued afterwards Sunday's hailing "the opening of a new page... especially in light of the sensitive circumstances the region is undergoing".
It can be assumed this apparent cooling of tensions influenced the Bahraini and UAE stance on the handball Championships. 
If they are permitted to return, UAE will play in Group C in the 24 team event, along with Olympic champions France, Sweden, Algeria, Egypt and Czech Republic, while Bahrain would be in Group D with Denmark, Poland, Russia, Argentina and Germany.
The biennial event will take place from January 15 until February 1 in 2015.
Added intrigue is added by the presence of Egypt, the country from where IHF President Hassan Moustafa originates, whose Muslim Brotherhood-backed Government was removed in July 2013, with the Islamist party then declared a terrorist organisation in December. 
In another interpreted as having political overtones.Egypt earlier this month announced they their withdrawal from the 2014 World Short Course Championships in Qatar next month, but they have stayed in the handball competition.

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