Egypt, Qatar rapprochement picks up momentum

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CAIRO — Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi obtained a telephone name April 12 from Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani. The name, at first of the holy month of Ramadan, was the primary contact between the 2 leaders since a reconciliation settlement was signed between Qatar and its Gulf neighbors in addition to Egypt within the Saudi metropolis of al-Ula in January, ending the diplomatic rift that emerged in 2017. 

Spokesperson for the Egyptian presidency Bassam Radi stated in a press release, “The president thanked Qatar’s emir for his wishes on this blessed occasion, calling on God Almighty to bless the peoples of the two brotherly countries as well as all Arab and Islamic peoples.”

Mohammed Soliman is a senior affiliate at McLarty Associates, an advisory agency based mostly in Washington. He advised Al-Monitor, “In previous times, the call would have been considered common protocol or courtesy. But now, it is a sign of better relations between Cairo and Doha, especially after the al-Ula declaration.”

Soliman added, “There is an understanding in Cairo and Doha that there is a need to tackle longstanding issues to restore trust, repair ties and ease the years-long inter-Arab feud.”

Former deputy overseas minister and member of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs Rakha Ahmed Hassan advised Al-Monitor that the telephone name is “undoubtedly a positive step and an initiative that Cairo appreciates.”

On March 8, a Qatari diplomatic delegation headed by the director of authorized affairs on the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad, visited Cairo to revive the connection between the 2 nations to earlier than the Gulf disaster in mid-2017.

Hassan added, The [March 8] go to could result in everlasting diplomatic illustration.

Al-Monitor was unable to reach the Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesperson and the Qatari Embassy in Cairo for remark.

However, Al-Monitor’s correspondent observed that the Egyptian authorities have eliminated the safety posts that had surrounded the Qatari Embassy for the reason that rift in 2017.

In 2017, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain reduce diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting and financing terrorism, a cost Doha denied. In January 2021, the 4 nations signed an settlement with Qatar to finish the disaster and restore relations.

Since then, the rift is being bridged little by little. On Feb. 23, delegations from Doha and Cairo met in Kuwait to debate the normalization course of. The first assembly between the overseas ministers of the 2 nations adopted March three in Cairo, after which Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani stated that the 2 nations are in search of to “bring back warmth to their relations.”

Hassan stated that Qatar had begun to answer Egyptian requests, the foremost about its media retailers’ objectivity towards Egyptian affairs.

However, Hassan famous, some points are nonetheless unresolved, such because the Muslim Brotherhood and its members on Qatari lands who’re wished by the Egyptian authorities.

He believes the Muslim Brotherhood challenge can be resolved by an settlement, noting that plenty of Brotherhood leaders maintain Qatari citizenship. They could also be requested to stop their political actions, he stated. 

On March 16, Qatari Interior Minister Khalid bin Khalifa made contact together with his Egyptian counterpart, Mahmoud Tawfik, to debate safety cooperation between the 2 nations. 

Mohammed al-Manisi, Egypt’s former ambassador to Doha, advised Al-Monitor that the decision between Sisi and Sheikh Tamim was a ceremonial gesture “that should not get more attention than it deserves.”

He added that regardless of the technical rapprochement, relations haven’t absolutely returned to regular.

Manisi doubts that Qatar will reply to Egyptian requests to cease supporting terrorist teams in Egypt and different nations and handy over Brotherhood leaders who stay in Qatar. “This is the main concern for Cairo, and Doha is still the main financier for these groups,” he stated.

“The ball is in Doha’s court, but from my experience with the ruling class there, I am not optimistic at all,” Manisi famous.

Hassan Abu Taleb, a advisor at Al-Ahram Center for Strategic Studies, advised Al-Monitor that the emir’s initiative reveals a Qatari want to finish the part of rigidity. Yet, he famous, “It is still too early to say that the relations between the two countries are back as they were before the crisis.”

He added, “Egypt has reservations in managing these relations, such as the issue of the Muslim Brotherhood, and there is still some inaccurate coverage of Egypt’s internal affairs by the Qatari Al Jazeera channel and others.”

Abu Taleb famous, “Keeping [Brotherhood leaders] out of the political scene is important and beneficial to the two countries,” stating that Turkey has suspended political applications on three Istanbul-based satellite tv for pc channels against the Egyptian regime — Watan, El Sharq and Mekameleen — to calm the scenario with Cairo.

However, the simultaneous Egyptian rapprochement with Qatar and Turkey could irritate Cairo’s allies such because the United Arab Emirates, which has lingering points with Egypt.

Hassan stated he doesn’t imagine the rapprochement with Qatar will have an effect on Cairo’s relations with the UAE. “There may be a difference in viewpoints between Cairo and Abu Dhabi, but the relations between them will remain solid,” he stated.

He identified that there’s a sort of competitors among the many younger rulers within the Gulf to assert larger roles within the area, however Egypt maintains ties with all events.

Soliman stated, “Cairo has its own foreign policy priorities and challenges across a wide geography — Libya, the eastern Mediterranean, East Africa, the Nile Basin and the Horn of Africa. This means that Cairo will need to have direct relations with major regional powers and find common ground.”