Persian Gulf Council Retracts Statement Defending Qatar
The organization of Persian Gulf monarchies on Friday withdrew a statement issued the previous day that defended Qatar against Egyptian allegations of supporting terrorism. The turnabout raised questions about possible discord or confusion within the organization, and about what appeared to be signs of reconciliation after a long dispute over Egypt between Qatar and its neighbors.

The confusion began on Thursday when Abdul Latif al-Zayani, the secretary general of the regional Gulf Cooperation Council, issued a statement admonishing Egypt for accusing Qatar of supporting terrorism. The statement defended Qatar’s contributions to the battle against terrorism and said that Egypt’s allegations, made following a dispute over Egypt’s airstrikes in Libya on Monday, were unhelpful to Arab unity at a critical time.
The statement was disseminated through the official Twitter account of the council’s general secretariat, and it was reported as accurate by state-controlled media outlets in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other gulf states. Several news organizations said the statement had appeared for a time on the council’s website.

On Friday, however, the same Twitter account circulated a statement from Mr. Zayani denying and contradicting his first statement, which had been removed. Some state-owned news organizations in Egypt and elsewhere reported his denial.

“Zayani stressed that the G.C.C. states have always sought to support and sustain the Arab Republic of Egypt in all areas under the leadership of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi,” the new statement declared.

A spokesman for the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed by email on Friday that the Gulf Cooperation Council had retracted its criticism. The same spokesman had declined to respond to a request for comment on the statement the previous day.

The tensions between Egypt and Qatar began with the Egyptian military’s ouster of President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013. Qatar had cultivated close ties with the Brotherhood. Qatar’s state-owned network Al Jazeera sharply criticized the takeover, and Qatar provided a refuge for Brotherhood leaders in exile.

After Egypt bombed a Libyan city this week in retaliation for the beheading of at least a dozen Egyptian Christians by an arm of the Islamic State terrorist group, a Qatari representative in the Arab League criticized Egypt for taking the action unilaterally, without consultation with other gulf states. A representative of Egypt then countered with the charge that Qatar supported terrorism.

Saudi Arabia tried in December to broker a partial reconciliation between Egypt and Qatar in the interest of uniting against common enemies like Iran and the Islamic State. But the retraction on Friday of the earlier statement appeared to signal that the gulf states were still firmly aligned with Egypt’s president if Qatar criticized him.

Post a Comment

Powered by Blogger.