Egypt, UAE look to solidify Qatar’s isolation
'There is an apparent effort by the two countries to get other Arab capitals involved in the Qatar boycott due to Doha’s intransigence,' Megahid al-Zayat, former head of Egypt’s National Centre for Middle-East Studies think-tank.
Joint action. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (R) walks with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan after he arrives in Cairo International Airport, June 19. (Reuters)
2017/06/25 Issue: 112 Page: 10
Cairo- Egypt and the United Arab Emirates are working to solidify Qatar’s isolation by convincing other Arab countries to join the boycott, analysts said.
Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan visited Cairo to meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to confirm their priority of clamping down on terrorism.
“Both sides stressed the importance of all Arab states and the international community fighting terrorism, especially stopping the funding of terrorist groups and providing political and media cover,” a statement from the Egyptian presidency said.
Analysts said official statements from Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, which stressed the importance of fighting terrorism but did not mention Qatar, clearly revolved around the regional diplomatic crisis with Doha.
“There is an apparent effort by the two countries to get other Arab capitals involved in the Qatar boycott due to Doha’s intransigence,” said Megahid al-Zayat, the former head of Egypt’s National Centre for Middle-East Studies thank-tank.
“Instead of realising its mistakes, Qatar increases the gap between it and other Arab countries by demanding support from rival regional powers Iran and Turkey.”
Egypt followed Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE in severing ties with Qatar on June 5 in protest of Doha’s suspected support for terrorist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood.
Sheikh Mohammed arrived in Cairo on June 19, accompanied by a high-level delegation from the UAE.
Following the meeting, Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid revealed details of plans Egypt and the UAE will pursue.
He said Cairo and Abu Dhabi, along with Riyadh and Manama, would participate in a campaign to clarify the reasons behind their decision to cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, including revealing specific information about Doha’s alleged funding of terrorism.
“They will present proof of Qatar’s support for terrorist groups in a number of countries,” Abu Zeid said in a telephone interview. “The four countries are in one camp and their position is very clear in this respect.”
Egypt has often complained about Doha’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood and insiders say that Cairo was thrilled that regional allies had come around to its position.
In comments carried by Egypt’s state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper, Moetaz Salama, director of the Gulf Studies Unit at Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, said the Qatar crisis was serving Egypt’s political interests while burnishing its ties with Gulf allies.
“Egypt’s current escalation against Qatar comes in the framework of Egyptian policy and interests. If influential parties in the region such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain have come to the conclusion that Egypt reached years ago — that Qatar is a supporter of terrorism — then this is a major strategic gain for Egypt,” he said.
Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain previously sent a joint delegation to the headquarters of the International Civil Aviation Organisation in Canada to explain their decision to close their airspace to carriers owned or registered by Qatar. They cited UN Security Council Resolution 1373 for their decision, a counterterrorism measure that was passed following the 9/11 attacks and which specifically seeks to clamp down on terrorism-financing.
During the president’s public iftar on June 20, Sisi reiterated that the decision was due to Qatar’s funding of terrorism. “There is a lot of money going to the financing of terrorism,” Sisi said. “This is why there is a need for a real position against this.”
The next day, Sisi told religious scholars that some “sister countries” supported terrorism, dubbing this “catastrophic.”
Cairo has complained about Qatar’s Al Jazeera media network, which has been heavily critical of the Egyptian government.