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Qatar Recalls Envoy from Cairo

  • Edward Yeranian

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Amir of Qatar (l) meets with Saudi King Salman at the Riyadh airport in Saudi Arabia, Feb. 17, 2015.

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Amir of Qatar (l) meets with Saudi King Salman at the Riyadh airport in Saudi Arabia, Feb. 17, 2015.

Qatar has recalled its ambassador to Egypt for consultations, after comments by Egypt's representative to the Arab League accusing the Gulf State of supporting Islamic terrorism.

Relations between Egypt and Qatar have taken a turn for the worse, after the small Gulf state recalled its ambassador.

Egypt's representative to the Arab League, Ambassador Tareq Adel, said Wednesday during the league's meeting that Doha supports “terrorism.”

Qatari-owned al-Jazeera Arabic TV read a statement from Qatar's foreign ministry, insisting the charge is false.

Egyptian media has lashed out at al-Jazeera in recent days over claims of “biased coverage” of Egyptian Air Force raids on the Libyan port city of Derna. Al-Jazeera showed photos of three children it said were killed in one raid, while Egyptian sources allege the children showed no wounds consistent with an air raid.

Egypt launched the air strikes earlier this week after Islamic State militants in Libya executed 21 Egyptian Copts they had taken hostage.

Al-Jazeera, along with the Qatar-based Libyan TV network “Libya li Kul al Ahrar,” has broadcast comments by officials of the Islamist-backed government in Tripoli condemning Egyptian airstrikes inside Libya. The internationally recognized government in Tobruk has supported Egyptian airstrikes on alleged militant positions.

Qatari officials say consultations should be held before any “unilateral military action against a member" of the Arab League.

Analyst Sigurd Neubauer of the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington says Egyptian officials and Libyan politicians opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood have accused Qatar of providing support for Islamists and Islamist militias. Some members of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood have taken refuge in Qatar since the military ousted the elected government of President Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

"It has also been a longstanding issue in Libya, where a lot of the political factions have been accusing Qatar of not only funneling money to the Muslim Brotherhood, but also actively supporting them through al-Jazeera coverage," said Neubauer.

Neubauer believes it is unlikely Qatar is supporting the more extreme Islamic State group, responsible for the brutal killings of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians recently.

"Is it possible that the Qataris continue to support the MB and militias close to the MB out of Misrata? Yes, and they have done that for a long time, but I would also think they would be very cautious of where the region is moving now to give any weapons to groups that go beyond the MB," he said.

Egyptian editor and publisher Hisham Kassem, though, is not so sure:

“We know the role that Qatar is playing in the region: it is the Mighty Mouse insisting they are Batman or Superman and they are very messy and they are doing everything by proxy," said Kassem.

Kassem blasts Qatar for its criticism of Egyptian military action in Libya, because other Middle East countries are bombing Islamic extremists across the region, including the Emirates and Saudi Arabia. He adds, "Everybody is bombing everybody. It is a pretty scary situation now.”

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