Qatar backs reconciliation efforts after Sisi meets envoy

Qatar backs reconciliation efforts after Sisi meets envoy
The meeting is the first of its kind since Sisi became president. Ties between the two countries deteriorated after Sisi ousted Mohammad Morsi, the elected president.
3 min read
21 December, 2014
Secretary General Abdul Latif Bin Rashid al-Zayani at the December GCC Doha summit (AFP)
Qatar has hailed efforts to patch up a rift with Egypt that caused ruptures in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and contributed to the continuing detention of al-Jazeera journalists.

The statement came after a meeting Saturday between Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and an envoy from the Gulf emirate.

Ties between Cairo and Doha deteriorated after then army chief Sisi ousted Mohammad Morsi, the elected president whose Muslim Brotherhood movement was backed by Qatar.

Since that July 2013 coup, a crackdown overseen by Sisi against the Brotherhood, which Cairo has labelled a terrorist organisation, has left hundreds dead. Qatar repeatedly denounced Sisi's ouster of Morsi and it still provides shelter for some Brotherhood leaders who fled Egypt.

The crackdown led to a months-long diplomatic spat pitting Qatar against fellow GCC members Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which all supported the ouster of Morsi.

But at a reconciliation summit in November hosted by Riyadh, Qatar joined its Gulf neighbours in supporting Egypt under Sisi.

"Egypt looks forward to a new era that ends past disagreements," Sisi's office said after he met with Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdel Rahman al-Thani, a special envoy of Qatar's emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.

Doha-based al-Jazeera television has repeatedly condemned Morsi's ouster, while Egyptian media have slammed Qatari authorities for backing the Brotherhood.

Egyptian authorities have jailed three al-Jazeera reporters, accusing them of biased reporting and aiding the Muslim Brotherhood. Sisi suggested last month he was considering pardoning the journalists who have now been held for just under a year.

The Riyadh summit came amid security fears over the rise of the Islamic State group (IS, formerly ISIS) in Syria and Iraq. GCC members Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have all joined US-led air strikes against the group.

Sisi's meeting with the Qatari envoy was his first with a Doha representative since becoming president in June. The Qatari envoy was accompanied by a special representative of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia welcomed the meeting and said the two countries had responded with "full conviction" to the Saudi king's initiative calling on both sides to consolidate ties, unify their stance and “remove reasons aiming to provoke conflict and discord between them,” according to a statement.

Qatar praised the initiative to bring Doha and Cairo closer and said the country was keen for Egypt play a leading role in the Arab and Muslim world. Qatar, the statement said, “affirms its commitment to close ties with [Egypt] and to developing them.”

Egypt, for its part, said it looked “forward to a new era that ends past disagreements," according to a statement from Sisi’s office that was issued after the Egyptian leader met the two envoys.