Anyone who wants to know the magnitude of transformation in Arab-Arab relations after upheavals and revolutions should consider how the Egyptian Foreign Ministry summoned Qatar’s ambassador in Cairo to register its fervent rejection of any interference in Egypt’s domestic affairs.
The move is unusual in inter-Arab relations, so when it happens it is a significant. Egypt’s objections were in reaction to a statement issued by Qatar’s Foreign Ministry criticising what it described as brutal suppression of peaceful Muslim Brotherhood (MB) demonstrations and urged the Egyptian government to immediately launch a dialogue with the organisation to restore stability.
The significance of summoning the ambassador in reality goes beyond rejecting the content and presumptions of the statement, or even taking a diplomatic stand. It is a milestone laden with important connotations, whether for Qatar, the Brotherhood, or Egypt’s foreign policy.
The Qatari statement interferes in Egypt’s domestic affairs and reflects the Qatari government’s understanding of the situation in Egypt as a mere dispute between the Egyptian government and the Brotherhood, which was recently designated a terrorist organisation. This is misleading because what is happening in Egypt is a historical struggle between the people and state institutions on one side against a terrorist organisation that decided to commit political, moral and religious suicide in a way that is difficult to defend or justify. It is a battle where retreat or surrender is not an option in reaching the non-negotiable goal of absolute victory for the state and people against terrorism.
It is noteworthy that Qatar is calling for dialogue since it is known as one of the largest bastions of the Brotherhood in the region, where Youssef El-Qaradawi, the MB’s spiritual guide, resides. Does this call for dialogue perhaps reflect the position of the leaders of the terrorist organisation who live in Qatar, and how does this compare with what we see in the Brotherhood’s protests – such as last week – where they persist in committing violence, sabotage and murder?
It is obvious that under pressure from consecutive security clampdowns, the MB has lost touch with reality and is living in an unprecedented delusional state. While all signs and facts indicate the Egyptian state can control protests of violence and terrorism, and the people are steeled against the lies of the supporters of the terrorist organisation, the MB decided to continue demonstrations fueled by youth who are not linked to the group. They are the ones who foot the bill of violence with minimal harm to Brotherhood members, and even more harm to public and private property.
The priority for the Muslim Brotherhood is not to commit heinous terrorist acts but to bring Egypt to its knees and put psychological pressure on all the citizenry to make them lose hope and reject the new reality they created on 30 June. This would be the first phase, and the second would be for the people to accept the return of the MB to power. Both concepts are highly delusional because of their misinterpretation of conditions in Egypt which have yielded several political and economic successes since 30 June.
The delusions of the MB are similar to Qatar’s, which imagines it can interfere in Egypt’s affairs and propose solutions. Some of these delusions are rooted in the nature of Qatari foreign policy itself which is audacious, swings from one contradiction to the next, is subject to the wishes of the US, is out of tune with the Gulf and averse to joining the Arab fold. It also has a sick hallucination that possessing vast amounts of money and giving them to certain groups inside various countries is enough to create a regional role for Doha, and to contribute to making changes in the geo-political map of the region, in which Qatar is a leader and at the helm of regional policies – irrespective of whether it serves Arab interests or not.
When all these attributes exist in the foreign policy of any country there is no possible outcome except failure. Qatar’s actions on the Syrian crisis are a flagrant example of foreign intervention that leads to serious catastrophe. Qatar transformed its close alliance with President Assad’s regime into extreme hostility under the assumption that Syria’s regime was about to fall, and opposition forces would formulate Syria’s future. This behaviour also revealed that Doha’s interactions with Syria before the people’s revolution there began in March, 2011, was for regional consumption, to aggravate Egypt and manipulate Arab public opinion which was misled with slogans of Arab resistance and opposition against Egypt’s position on the Arab and regional arena. Qatar’s foreign policies are unprincipled, immoral and toy with higher Arab interests; they lack credibility and are un-Arab.
Although the Al-Jazeera news channel, one of the most influential tools of pressure of Qatari policies, has clearly failed to influence the Arab arena, there are no signs that the ruler of Qatar Prince Tamim intends on revising the performance of Al-Jazeera to better serve both Qatari and Egyptian interests. Instead, there are signs that Qatar, as the guardian of the Brotherhood, will continue to support terrorist acts by the group in order to abort the revolution of the Egyptian people and reverse the clock. This complicates matters further and makes for a worse deadlock.
If Qatari decision makers believe the hands of Egyptian decision makers are tied because of the large number of Egyptians who live and work in Qatar, some 200,000 people, would limit Egypt’s maneouverability and render it weak or ineffective, the summoning of the Qatari ambassador by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry clearly indicates that Qatar will lose this gamble. And many more surprises by Egypt are yet to come.