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Monday, August 2, 2021

Qatar struggles to manage Egypt relationship

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As clashes between supporters and opponents of ousted Egyptian president Muhammad Morsi leave nine people dead, Qatar’s Foreign Ministry has expressed concerns about the bloodshed.

For the first time, the Gulf country is also questioning the ongoing detention of Morsi, who was taken into custody by army officials on July 3. QNA reports:

“Dialogue is not possible in the absence of one of its parties and the holding of its symbols,” a Qatari foreign ministry official said.

Though Qatar, which provided billions of dollars in aid to Morsi’s government over the past year, initially said that it would continue to support Egypt as it works toward “democracy and social justice,” analysts say the possibility of a solid relationship is now looking far less likely.

This is in part because other Gulf countries, who had been concerned with Morsi’s ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, are stepping in to support the new Egypt.

In a “recalibration of power,” Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait have offered Egypt some $12 billion in aid over the past few weeks, Reuters reports.

Al Jazeera’s woes

Meanwhile, Qatar-based Al Jazeera yesterday accused Egyptian authorities of derailing its attempts to cover clashes between pro- and anti-Morsi supporters.

In a statement, the network, whose Egyptian channel was taken offline in the days following Morsi’s ousting, said that its staff is facing constant threats and has been prevented from covering official press conferences:

“There is no truth to what is being published in this campaign about Al Jazeera’s bias towards one side in the current political equation. These are accusations with no proof.”

It remains to be seen how Qatar, who last month saw its longtime ruler hand over power to his son, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, will manage this foreign policy issue. 

In an interview with Time Magazine, Michael Stephens, a Doha-based researcher for the Royal United Services Institute, a British think tank, predicted:

“Qatar’s foreign interventions will be cut back. They overreached.”

Thoughts?

Credit: Photo by Kodak Agfa

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