Egypt’s parliament holds again on Qatar normalization

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Feb 17, 2021

CAIRO — Egyptian parliamentarians objected throughout a Jan. 26 parliament session to Egypt’s choice to reconcile with Qatar and restore Egyptian-Qatari relations in mild of “ongoing attacks on Egypt.”

Qatar and its Gulf Arab neighbors signed on Jan. 5 an settlement aimed toward easing the financial and diplomatic boycott imposed on Doha since 2017. The leaders of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt reached an settlement with their regional rival throughout a gathering of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) within the Saudi desert metropolis of al-Ula. 

Ahead of the signing of the settlement, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi had clarified his nation’s place on the Gulf reconciliation course of, saying in a press release on Jan. 2, “The Egyptian policy focuses on achieving cooperation, building and supporting Arab solidarity as a solid strategic approach, within a framework of mutual respect and non-interference in internal affairs, and adhering to sincere intentions to achieve the common interest, as well as maintaining solidarity to ward off risks threatening the Arab nations and safeguarding their national security.”

Kuwait had led efforts to mediate between Qatar on the one hand and Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain on the opposite for the reason that 4 international locations reduce ties with Qatar and imposed a blockade on the Gulf nation over its ties to Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood in 2017. They had issued 13 calls for to Qatar in return for reversing their actions. But Doha had rejected any measure that impacts its nationwide sovereignty and independence, noting on the identical time its readiness for dialogue on the rule of parity and respect for sovereignty.

Following the Jan. 5 settlement, Egypt reopened its airspace to Qatari flights on Jan. 12 and resumed flights, following the same step by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain. 

Meanwhile, Qatar resumed a collection of financial initiatives in Egypt after receiving the mandatory approvals, particularly the CityGate mission in New Cairo carried out by Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company.

On Jan. 20, the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs introduced that Egypt and Qatar exchanged two official memoranda, in response to which the 2 international locations agreed to renew diplomatic relations and decide to the reciprocal obligations contained within the al-Ula declaration.

Some 300,000 Egyptians at present reside in Qatar and work in numerous companies and professions. Qatar did not intrude within the employees’ residences, giving them the liberty to both proceed to work or return to Egypt. It was the Egyptian authorities that stopped the journeys to Qatar.

Tensions between Egypt and Qatar had been increase previously years over the Gulf nation’s assist for the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt banned following the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi in 2013. Saudi efforts to fix the dispute in 2014 failed, and the disaster culminated in 2017 when Egypt joined Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain in reducing ties with Qatar over its assist for the Muslim Brotherhood.

Egyptian-Qatari relations have handed by way of important phases since Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani assumed the emirate of Qatar on June 27, 1995. Relations between Cairo and Doha are divided into two phases — the primary is earlier than the January 25 revolution, the place steady pressure prevailed with the Hosni Mubarak regime till an entire freeze and halt of visits. The second stage is the post-revolution interval, which was accompanied by Doha’s assist and strengthened by the Muslim Brotherhood’s arrival to energy. Relations had been severed once more in 2017.​

Despite the reconciliation settlement reached on Jan. 5, Egyptian parliamentarians and different critics of normalization say Qatar has but to satisfy the calls for issued by the 4 international locations, together with reducing ties to Muslim Brotherhood figures and spreading “fake news” about Egypt on Qatari media channels. 

Hurriya Mujahid, professor of African political programs and worldwide relations at Cairo University, put the burden on Qatar, telling Al-Monitor Egyptian-Qatari relations ought to resume as soon as Qatar now not opposes Egypt and stops interfering in Egyptian affairs and financing terrorism.

Noteworthy is that the Egyptian state accuses Qatar of supporting extremist teams which might be energetic in Sinai.

Ahmed Ismail, a member of the Defense and National Security Committee within the Egyptian parliament, informed Al-Monitor, “Restoring relations is subject to Qatar’s commitment to the Egyptian demands by refraining from spreading false news on its channels, supporting terrorism and interfering in Egyptian affairs.”

Egyptian parliament member Nashwi al-Deeb informed Al-Monitor, “Qatar’s interference in Egypt’s affairs and policies is rejected. The issue is not with the Qatari people; it is a dispute with the state administration because Qatar is used as a tool to strike Egypt,” in reference to Turkey. 

Deeb added, “The reconciliation must have guarantees from the Qatari regime not to interfere in Egyptian affairs. It must also admit that its positions against Egypt were wrong so that the reconciliation is real and not diplomatic. Qatar must give up harboring terrorist groups on its territory, [and] it should join Cairo in recognizing the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group. Otherwise, the reconciliation will be merely formal.”