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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Qatar insists Al Jazeera not part of reconciliation with Egypt


On Wednesday, Egypt and Qatar agreed to restore full diplomatic ties, but there are conflicting reports surrounding the details behind the agreement. 

Cairo and Doha have decided to resume full diplomatic relations after signing two official memoranda on January 20. 

The move came after the quartet of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt ended their three-year long blockade on Qatar on January 5, with the signing of the Al-Ula declaration. 

While Egypt seems to have restored all ties, including resuming flights to and from Qatar, officials from the two countries seem to differ on the finer points of the agreements. 

According to Reuters, two Egyptian intelligence sources claimed that a Qatari foreign ministry official pledged in a meeting with government representatives from Cairo and Abu Dhabi that Doha would not interfere with Egypt’s internal affairs. The Qatari official also allegedly pledged a change in Al Jazeera’s editorial policy with regards to Egypt. 

However, a Qatari official denied any such promises were made and said that no such meeting had even taken place. According to the Qatari narrative, diplomatic relations were restored “via written correspondence referencing the Al Ula Agreement” reached at the summit in Saudi Arabia.

Qatar’s foreign minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani has also previously said that Al Jazeera is an independent media institution and that it was not part of any of the discussions or negotiations that led to the Al Ula declaration. 

“We guarantee freedom of expression, and the issue of Al Jazeera must be dealt with positively and constructively,” he said in an interview. 

Senior staff at Al Jazeera have told Doha News that the network has not made changes in its coverage of Egypt, insisting that it continues critical coverage of issues of importance to the Egyptian people and the Arab world. Last week Al Jazeera’s Arabic channel extensively covered the scandal at several Egyptian hospitals which saw dozens of COVID-19 patients die due to lack of oxygen canisters and government negligence. The channel has also been airing a promo for its upcoming special coverage to mark the 10th anniversary of Egypt’s January 25th revolution.

Among the 13 demands issued by the blockading quartet in June 2017 was the shuttering of Al Jazeera. The FM’s comments seem to back claims that the former blockading quarter had since ditched the list of demands in latest efforts to end the Gulf dispute. 

UAE official Anwar Gargash also previously stated that the 13 demands came from a “maximalist negotiating point” and admitted that Qatar had not conceded to them.

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