UPDATED: GCC secretary general criticises Cairo's accusations of Qatar 'supporting terrorism'

Ahram Online , Thursday 19 Feb 2015

On Wednesday, Qatar recalled its ambassador from Cairo, after Egypt accused Qatar of 'supporting terrorism'

Gulf Cooperation Council meeting in 2014 (Photo: Al-Ahram)

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) secretary general on Thursday criticised Cairo's accusations of Qatar "supporting terrorism" at an Arab League meeting the day before, describing them in a statement issued on the GCC website as "utterly false" and "not conducive to Arab solidarity at this critical moment."

‪GCC secretary general Abdullatif Al-Zayani said the Egyptian accusations contradict what he described as the "sincere efforts of Qatar to fight terrorism."

"Such statements do not help to consolidate Arab solidarity at a time when our homelands face considerable challenges threatening their security, stability and sovereignty," he said.

He said that these accusations contradict the "sincere efforts" of Qatar and the five other GCC member states in "combating terrorism and extremism and supporting joint Arab cooperation."

On Wednesday, during deliberations at an Arab league meeting to discuss a joint Arab response to Egypt's airstrikes against Islamic State (IS) targets in Libya, Qatar criticised what it described as the "unilateral" Egyptian airstrikes, saying Cairo had failed to consult with fellow Arab League member states beforehand.

Egypt's envoy to the Arab League Adel Tarek responded by defending Egypt's right to defend itself, accusing Doha of "supporting terrorism", according to Egyptian state news agency MENA.

Later on Wednesday, Qatar recalled its ambassador in Cairo "for consultation".

‪On Monday, Egypt launched airstrikes against suspected IS arms caches and training camps in the eastern Libyan city of Derna after the Al-Qaeda offshoot released a video showing the beheading of Coptic Christians.

‪Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain -- all three member of the GCC -- ended an eight-month-long rift with Qatar in November of last year, when the oil-rich states reinstated their ambassadors to Doha after withdrawing them over its support for Islamist groups including the Muslim Brotherhood.

‪Despite Qatar's reservations, the Arab League on Wednesday expressed its "complete understanding" of Egypt's air strikes and its support to Cairo's call for lifting an arms embargo on Libya's internationally-recognised government to help the North African country in its fight against extremism.

The United Nations special envoy to Libya Bernardino Leon has said that extremism in Libya can only be defeated with a united Libyan government backed by strong international support. The UN is mediating between the rival factions in Libya with the aim of ceasing hostilities and forging a unity government.

Egyptian president Abdel Fattah El-Sisi on Tuesday called on the UN to authorise an international coalition to intervene in the neighbouring country, in an interview with French radio.

‪But Egypt's foreign ministry said a day later, on Wednesday, that a resolution submitted by Arab nations to the UN Security Council did not call for international military intervention.

The announcement came after Western powers -- including the US, France and Britain -- stressed the need for a "political solution" to the conflict.

‪Egypt and Qatar have been at loggerheads since the 2013 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, whom Doha had staunchly supported.

Cairo has accused Doha-based media outlet Al-Jazeera of being a mouthpiece for the Muslim Brotherhood, a group that Egypt, UAE and Saudi Arabia have listed as a "terrorist organisation".

The UAE and Saudi Arabia see the group's brand of political Islam as a threat to their monarchies.

‪Qatar said in December that it would suspend Al-Jazeera Mubashir Masr's broadcast, as Doha and Cairo sought to mend ties amid mediation by Saudi Arabia.

‪GCC member states include Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar.

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