The removal of Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi from office last night, after millions protested against his legitimacy for four days, has cast doubt on the country’s relationship with Qatar, which had been backing Morsi since his term began a year ago.
Morsi was ousted by the Egyptian Army at 8pm Qatar time on Wednesday night, and is currently being held by the military, his political party, the Muslim Brotherhood, has said.
Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia, concerned about the rising influence of the Muslim Brotherhood, have welcomed the removal of the 61-year-old politician.
UPDATE | 4:36pm
Qatar’s Emir sent a cable of congratulations to Head of the Supreme Constitutional Court Adli Mansour on Wednesday after he was named interim president of Egypt, Qatar News Agency reports. And the Prime Minister reportedly sent his congratulations today.
A statement issued by the Qatari Foreign Ministry to QNA, meanwhile, lauded its support for the Egyptian people, saying Qatar “will remain a support the brotherly Arab Republic of Egypt as a leader and a pioneer in the Arab and Islamic world.” The comment continues:
“The State of Qatar policy has always been with the will of the brotherly Egyptian people and their options for achieving their aspirations towards democracy and social justice…
The State of Qatar confirmed that it will maintain its excellent fraternal relations with the Arab Republic of Egypt and will work to developing and strengthening them with a view to serving the interests of the two brotherly countries and their peoples.”
UPDATE | 7:23 pm
Al Jazeera has issued a statement demanding the release of staff members detained in Cairo, including Al Jazeera Misr Mubasher’s managing director Ayman Gaballah and Al Jazeera Arabic broadcast engineer Ahmad Hasan.
Mostefa Souag, acting Director General of Al Jazeera Media Network, said:
“There are big events taking place in Egypt and the world tunes in to Al Jazeera at times like these. The viewing public will not accept being cut-off from news and information. Regardless of political views, the Egyptian people expect media freedoms to be respected and upheld.”
According to Saudi state news agency SPA, King Abdullah sent a message of congratulations to the head of the Egyptian Constitutional Court, Adli Mansour, the new interim head of state. He said:
“We strongly shake hands with the men of all the armed forces, represented by General Abdulfattah Al-Sisi, who managed to save Egypt at this critical moment from a dark tunnel God only could apprehend its dimensions and repercussions, but the wisdom and moderation came out of those men to preserve the rights of all parties in the political process.”
And UAE state news agency WAM reports Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan as saying:
“The great Egyptian army was able to prove again that they are the fence of Egypt and that they are the protector and strong shield that guarantee Egypt will remain a state of institutions and law.”
Meanwhile, Al Jazeera is reporting that the Egyptian military has shut down four television stations across the country that it deemed sympathetic to Morsi, including Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr.
Reporters at that channel were interrupted while reporting on a pro-Morsi rally, and five employees were arrested, though four were later released, AJE states.
In the last year, Qatar has pledged billions in aid and loans to Egypt to help keep its economy afloat. But with the recent turn of events there, it remains unclear what impact Qatar’s support for the unpopular, short-lived government may have on future relations and business ties.
Jon Alterman, director of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told the Wall Street Journal that if Qatar drops its aid, it’s possible that KSA or the UAE could open their pocketbooks to support the new government.
But he added: “At this stage, it’s unclear where the money’s going to come from” to support the Egyptian economy.”
Credit: Photo by Zeinab Mohamed