Egypt warns Qatar over Muslim Brotherhood support

Egypt's Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi told reporters in Riyadh that Cairo will not remain silent if Qatar decides to interfere directly in Egypt’s domestic affairs. (Reuters)

Egypt does not want to escalate conflicts with the Gulf state of Qatar but will not remain silent if there is a “direct” interference in its domestic affairs, Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi said on Wednesday during a visit to Saudi Arabia.

“Qatar is an Arab country and differences happen between members of one family. We are keen to preserve our ties, but there are some practices the least of which can be described as unfair and not honest,” Beblawi told reporters before leaving Riyadh.

He noted that the differences with Qatar, which hosts dozens of fugitive Muslim Brotherhood members and critics of the current military-backed interim government, are going “out of ordinary.”

Egypt’s foreign ministry on Tuesday summoned Qatar’s charge d’affaires in Cairo to demand the handover of Islamist fugitives in exile in Doha.

Ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty said the diplomat was told Egypt wanted Qatar to extradite critics of Cairo’s army-backed government, including the Egyptian-born cleric who supports the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood.

Abdelatty told journalists that recent comments by Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi, who said Saudi support for the military government was wrong and should be withdrawn, were unacceptable and criticized Doha for its “refusal to hand over wanted Egyptians.”

Sheikh Qaradawi faces charges alongside ousted Islamist President Mohammad Mursi in connection with a mass jail break during the 2011 uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak.

Once close Qatari-Egyptian ties have soured since Cairo’s army last July ousted Mursi, who was strongly backed by Doha, following mass protests against his one-year rule.

Egypt then launched a wide crackdown against Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood group and labeled it a terrorist group. Some members of the Brotherhood and other opponents of the government fled to Qatar, a wealthy Gulf Arab state.

The foreign ministry summoned Qatar’s ambassador last month after Doha criticized Cairo’s crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood.

Egypt accuses Qatar and its Doha-based Al Jazeera television channel of backing the Muslim Brotherhood.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:42 - GMT 06:42
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