Lesson Learnt from Qatar-Egypt Successful Reconciliation
There is a remarkable shift in Qatar’s regional policy that is worthy of praise and admiration. For the first time since the 1980s, the Qatari leadership dusts off the hindering strategy of supporting rabble-rousing political Islamist groups against the interests of neighboring Arab governments. Instead, Qatar has become keen on rebuilding healthy relationships with Arab neighbor states.
That new approach promises the restoration of political stability in the region and prepares Qatar to be one of the regional agenda-setters. By winning back the trust of its sister Arab countries, Qatar is reintroducing itself as the powerful hub that can effectively connect Arab and non-Arab countries of the Middle East region. Qatar is the only Arab country that enjoys deep and solid relationships with Turkey and Iran, in addition to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Qatar’s Prince, Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, told Le Point Magazine, last week, that his country has no relationship with the political Islamists. Also, he emphasized that no active members of the Muslim Brotherhood are allowed to live in Qatar.
“This relationship [with political Islamists] does not exist, and there are no active members of the Muslim Brotherhood or any related groups on Qatari soil;” asserted Prince Tamim. “We are an open country, and a large number of people with different opinions and ideas pass through it. But we are a state and not a party, and we deal with states and their legitimate governments, not with political organizations.”
Prince Tamim’s impressive statements coincided with Egypt’s President, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, first visit to Doha, as part of the mutual effort to improve ties, after four years of diplomatic boycott and media wars that set the entire region on fire. Since the signing of Al-Ula Declaration, under the Saudi-led Arab reconciliation initiative, the relationship between Egypt and Qatar has been steadily progressing on all levels.
The economic sector is one of the arenas where that improvement is evident. In the past year alone, Qatar invested tens of billions of dollars in Egypt’s tourism and petroleum sectors. Moreover, Qatar promised, in May, to participate in elevating the struggling Egyptian economy by scheduling grander investments over the coming four years.
The political rivalry between Egypt and Qatar dates back to the 1980s. It is perhaps older than the age of Prince Tamim himself. In the past seven years, this rivalry hit the peak point when El-Sisi and Tamim adopted opposing positions about the legitimacy of the Muslim Brotherhood. However, the recent awakening of the Qatari Prince to the fact that state-to-state relationships are more viable and durable is momentous.
The early signs of Prince Tamim’s abandonment of the Muslim Brotherhood appeared during his visit to Cairo in June. The Qatari Prince congratulated his Egyptian counterpart on the June 30th anniversary. Prince Tamim’s recognition of the June 30th anniversary was almost an announcement of this new strategy, as this anniversary celebrates the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood from power in 2013 and the ascendence of president El-Sisi to power in 2014.
The successful case of Egypt-Qatar reunion, and its massive impact on weakening the Muslim Brotherhood group, should encourage Egypt to consider taking loftier steps towards reconciliation with Turkey. Similar to Qatar, Turkey had been a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood group against El-Sisi’s leadership. However, in the past two years, Turkey has drastically changed its policy in the Middle East. The Turkish leadership withdrew support to the Muslim Brotherhood to focus on rebuilding healthy relationships with Arab states and Israel. To close the circle of Middle East solidarity that would ensure long-term regional political stability, the time has come for Egypt to respond to Turkey’s extending hand of peace the same way it did with Qatar.
BY: Dalia Ziada