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Egypt summons Qatari ambassador

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Strong criticism of Egypt from Qatar strains relationship between the two Arab states

Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned Qatar’s ambassador on Saturday following a statement issued by the Gulf nation’s foreign ministry on Friday.

Qatari ambassador Seif Moqadam Al-Bonein was summoned by Egypt’s ministry to speak with Assistant Foreign Minister for Arab Affairs Nasser Kamel, according to spokesman Badr Abdelatty, following a statement from the Qatar Ministry of Foreign Affairs that strongly criticised the Egyptian government’s ongoing crackdown on supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi.

A statement from the Egyptian foreign ministry said that the summoning of an Arab ambassador “was an unusual step among Arab countries”.

“[Qatar's] statement is unacceptable interference in the internal affairs of the country,” said the Egyptian ministry, saying it also discussed the “breaches” committed by Qatari satellite channel Al-Jazeera.

Nasser told the ambassador that “if Qatar was honest in support of the revolutions, it was expected from Qatar to take concrete and constructive steps to restore relations between the two countries to its natural context, rather than intervene in the internal affairs of states”.

“The spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Egypt affirms that it will not allow any foreign party to meddle in its internal affairs under any name or justification,” continued the statement. “[The foreign ministry] holds any state or external party that initiates or provides this responsible for the consequent repercussions.”

The Qatari statement expressed “concern” for the “growing number of victims of the repression of demonstrations” and the increased number of dead protesters.

The Qatari ministry added that “the decision to move popular political movements to terrorist organisations and the conversion of protests to an act of terrorism have not stopped peaceful demonstrations”.

“It was only a pretext so that the government could shoot and kill protesters,” the statement added.

The Qatari ministry also said that developments in Egypt provided evidence that the “path of confrontation” and the use of security forces to face mobilisation “does not lead to stability”.

“The only solution is dialogue between the political components of the society and the state in Egypt without exclusion or eradication,” concluded the statement.

The relationship between Egypt and Qatar has been strained since Morsi’s ouster in July. During the former president’s tenure, various groups saw the Gulf state as a strong supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Last month, Egypt’s prosecutor-general ordered Morsi and other Brotherhood leaders be tried for espionage. Among the allegations lodged against Morsi were “opening channels with the west through Qatar and Turkey”.

Al-Jazeera has suffered from the post-3 July crackdown on media and five of its reporters are currently being detained by Egyptian authorities.

Most recently, three members of Al-Jazeera English’s Cairo news team were arrested and currently face charges of “joining a terrorist organisation, publishing false news harming national security, terrorizing people and harming the people’s general benefit, and possessing broadcast equipment without a license”.

Qatar has repeatedly stated that it does not favour a specific political group in Egypt. Last month Qatari Minister of Foreign Affairs Khalid bin Mohammed Al-Attiyah said his country’s foreign policy was “to work with the government and not any particular party,” adding that “there is no doubt that Egypt’s stability is for everyone’s interest”.

Shortly following Morsi’s ouster, the Qatari foreign minister said that his country had never given aid to the Muslim Brotherhood, and that assistance coming from his country was in the form of aid for the country as a whole.

“Qatar has never given aid to an Egyptian group or an Egyptian political party. The aid has always been provided to Egypt itself,” said Al-Attiyah in August in Paris.


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