Foreign meddling in Egypt

Abdel Latif el-Menawy
Abdel Latif el-Menawy
Published: Updated:
Read Mode
100% Font Size
7 min read

There were three major losers after Egypt’s June 30 revolution. The first is undisputedly the Muslim Brotherhood, both inside and outside Egypt, in addition to those groups who propagate political Islam all over the world.

The second loser is the American administration which failed to understand the people’s popular desire and stupidly made a bet enabling political Islam to be represented by the Brotherhood which they protected. The Americans could not quickly comprehend the Egyptians’ desires which led to the ouster of the Brotherhood from power. There are, however, some indications they did realize the Egyptian public’s intentions, but even if they did, it was too little, too late.

The third loser is Qatar. It is as such for several complicated reasons and it may not be possible to address them all in detail. But some of these reasons may be pointed out in the context of this article. The problem here is that so far it appears that Qatar has not taken measures that harmonize with the big change Egypt has witnessed. For the Egyptians, the situation looks like there is a Qatari insistence to underestimate their desires. Not only that, there's also a stance, that has been aired by the stance of Al-Jazeera, and Qatar has not done anything so far to down play this stance.

Egyptian-Qatari relations have passed through several phases since Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani took over governance in Qatar on June 27, 1995. Indications so far do not bode well for quick positive developments.

The relationship between Doha and Cairo is split into two phases. The first one is before the January 25 revolution where a state of tension reigned between Qatar and the regime of Hosni Mubarak. At some points, relations were almost frozen. The last months, however, witnessed some sort of easing in bilateral relations. I think engineer Rashid Mohammad Rashid had a role in that. But what Egypt witnessed after that, as well as the Qatari stance, proved it was a fake rapprochement. Then came the post-Mubarak phase, and a new era of huge Qatari presence reigned over relations. The Muslim Brotherhood, which has strong, surprising, relations with Khalifa’s governance in Qatar, then attained power. Qatar’s unconditional support to Mursi’s regime was a direct reason behind the state of anger and suspicion among many Egyptians.

The relationship between Doha and Cairo is split into two phases. The first one is before the January 25 revolution where a state of tension reigned between Qatar and the regime of Hosni Mubarak

Abdel Latif el-Menawy

Several reasons led to the bad relations between Egypt and Qatar during Mubarak’s reign. Some of these reasons date back to the period of time when Sheikh Hamad took over governance as it was said back then that there was a Saudi-Egyptian attempt to bring back his father to governance. Then the issue turned into a state of a competing policy imposed by the new Qatari command on the two countries’ leadership.

Sometimes, the situation appeared as a Qatari desire to corrupt or dwarf the Egyptian role in the region. Qatar tried to play a role in regional issues sponsored by Cairo especially in the issues of Sudan and Palestine. As we notice, both countries have joint borders with Egypt which means that any development in either is an affair that directly affects national security. Therefore, the Qatari interference in these two issues, in a manner that contradicts with what the Egyptian policy believed fell in favor of its national security and direct interests ,was a hostile policy practiced by Qatar towards Egypt. The relations reached a new low at the beginning of 2009, following the Israeli war on Gaza and following Sheikh Hamad’s support of the Hamas Movement which had a tense relation with Mubarak’s regime. In addition to that, Sheikh Hamad had distinguished relations with Ahmedinejad’s regime in Iran. Relations between Iran and Egypt were suspended, back then, for more than thirty years. Doha’s move of opening its doors to the regime’s opposition figures and hosting the latter was another reason for the tense relations. Al-Jazeera channel’s podiums also hosted these opposition figures to attack Mubarak, his family and policies. Mubarak’s regime considered this insulting to Cairo.

As I mentioned, relations appeared to be taking a positive turn thanks to Rashid Mohammad Rashid’s efforts. Then there was Mubarak’s visit to Doha in October 2010 as I remember. Mubarak personally told me in a phone call from Doha that he was content with the visit. But what happened on January 25 contradicted the deceptive results of this visit. The Qatari channel Al-Jazeera, under Hamad’s governance, was strongly against Mubarak’s regime and was supportive of the revolution in a manner that trespassed the concept of supporting the people’s protests. Al-Jazeera trespassed all professional concepts and took to the arena as a major player and as a major tool in undermining the former regime.

After the fall of Mubarak’s regime, an improvement in relations began occur. Khalifa visited Cairo in 2010, in his first visit since 2007. During his visit, he met with Hussein Tantawi, the former commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Qatar withdrew its candidate for the post of the Arab League secretary general so Egypt keeps this post for itself as usual. But Qatar’s condition for withdrawing its candidate, Mustafa al-Faqi, was that Nabil al-Arabi be nominated instead. Back then, Hamad Bin Jassem, Qatar’s foreign affairs minister, confirmed that his country’s stance comes as a move in support of Egypt and the revolution. Many did not believe this allegation back then, what to say they will believe it now?

This article was first published in al-Masry al-Youm on September 2, 2013.


Abdel Latif el-Menawy is an author, columnist and multimedia journalist who has covered conflicts around the world. He is the author of “Tahrir: the last 18 days of Mubarak,” a book he wrote as an eyewitness to events during the 18 days before the stepping down of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Menawy’s most recent public position was head of Egypt’s News Center. He is a member of the National Union of Journalists in the United Kingdom, and the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate. He can be found on Twitter @ALMenawy

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
Top Content Trending