Egypt Warns Qatar to Stop Destabilizing It

November 30, 2014  

In a wide-ranging interview in Asharq Al-Awsat, a pro-Saudi Arabian paper, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri warned Qatar to cease its efforts to destabilize Egypt and stated that concerning ties with Iran, “the situation has not changed much over the past 25 years. Ties are frozen and diplomatic relations severed.”

Israel didn’t rate a mention in the interview.

The most immediate issue explored in the interview was the recent reconciliation of the Gulf States with Qatar that has, up to now, politically and monetarily supported both the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and its offshoot Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Shukri was blunt. He stated Egypt hopes “that the other side [Qatar] takes a position that demonstrates [Qatar] follows policies that prove that it is following a different path so that relations are brotherly and based on mutual respect and joint interests.”

Specifically, he added, “What is required is for Qatar’s policies to be supportive of Egypt and its national security during this stage, and to avoid anything that leads to destabilizing Egypt.”

In other words, Egypt is warning Qatar that its destabilization of Egypt’s national security through the Muslim Brotherhood better stop, and stop soon. This could also signal Qatar may have diverged from Turkey in what has up to now been joint Qatari-Turkish support for the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood against the secular Egyptian government.

A favorable interview

Egypt, with 85 million Sunni Arabs, is a leader in the Sunni Arab world. So, Shukri’s anti-Iranian comments, and his failure to even mention Israel or the Palestinian issue in the entire interview is both surprising and favorable, from an Israeli perspective.

Earlier this year, Egypt’s Prosecutor General accused former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and his top aides of sharing state secrets with Iran, with which Cairo had no diplomatic relations, and of spying on Egypt for the Palestinian terror group Hamas and the Lebanese terror organization Hezbollah.

When seen in the context of Egypt’s accusations that Hamas and Hezbollah conspired with Iran to destabilize Egypt, Shukri’s statements could, in large part, explain why Egypt is attempting to hermetically blockade Gaza, and cut off all Egypt-based smuggling into Gaza by way of Hamas’ tunnel project.

Shukri also emphasized that the major world powers, i.e. the P5+1, are trying to prevent “a nuclear arms race [with Iran] that would have a severe impact on the region.”

Obama relations are better

On Egypt’s relations with America and the Obama Administration, Shukri signaled a dramatic turn for the better since last July when the same Shukri warned, “We [Egypt] will no longer allow the US to interfere in our affairs.” For while originally, the Obama administration was extremely negative and hostile to Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s anti-Muslim Brotherhood counter-revolution, Shukri now says “both sides are seeking convergence of views on issues where there is lack of agreement” and “there is a lot of joint dialogue and many mutual interests… We are working together to ensure that our relations are positive and supportive for both parties.”

Finally, with regards to the Islamist terrorist scourge that has afflicted the Sinai, east of the Suez Canal, and even inside of Egypt west of the Suez, Shukri stated that, “Egypt is carrying out a war against terrorists in Sinai and has borne many sacrifices in this regard, particularly given that there are many residential centers in Sinai where terrorist elements can hide while we are committed to ensuring that no innocent civilians are harmed.

“It would be easy to fight against terrorism with indiscriminate military operations that do not take civilian casualties into account. We are making every effort to win the war on terrorism and hope to put an end to this phenomenon soon. We are in the process of taking new security measures [in Sinai] and I believe that this will have a strong impact in ensuring success in the war on terror.”

In conclusion, in the short-term, it appears Egypt will be taking a very tough stance against Hamas, Hezbollah, Turkey, and Iran, all of which it sees as attempting to destabilize and harm Egypt’s national security. Furthermore, if the recent Gulf “reconciliation” forces Qatar to cut its support for both the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoot, Hamas, by cutting their financial and political support via Al-Jazeera, Qatar’s Pan-Arabian TV station, this could have a dramatic benefit for the secular Egypt, the moderate-Sunni bloc, Israel, and the entire eastern Mediterranean.

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