GCC secretary-general denies criticising Egypt, blames media

Ahram Online , Friday 20 Feb 2015

Gulf Cooperation Council head stresses Gulf states support Egypt's fight against 'terrorist groups' in Libya

Secretary General Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani
Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretary General Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani speaks during a press conference as part of the GCC meeting on Wednesday, May 14, 2014 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (Photo: AP)

The secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council has denied that he criticised statements made by an Egyptian diplomat who accused Qatar of supporting terrorism, saying he was misquoted by the media.

Abdullatif Al-Zayani said in a statement on Thursday that he “denied” media reports about an earlier statement by him.

Earlier on Thursday a statement by Al-Zayani on the official GCC website, which has been removed, said that the Egyptian accusations against Qatar contradict what he described as the "sincere efforts of Qatar to fight terrorism."    

In the subsequent statement, Al-Zayani said that the GCC countries “always seek the support of Egypt, led by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi."  

"GCC countries totally support Egypt in all the military procedures that it has been taking to fight the terrorist groups in Libya," the statement said, adding that this is a legal right for any state to safeguard its security and independence.

It was also highlighted that this support comes according to an agreement signed at a conference that took place in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh in November which obliged all GCC countries to support Egypt and work to enhance its security and stability.

Ties between Egypt and Qatar have been strained since last year's ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. Cairo has criticised Doha's perceived backing of the group, deemed a terrorist group by Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Qatar has given refuge to some leading Brotherhood members and the Doha-based Al Jazeera news agency is seen by Cairo authorities as being biased towards Islamists. Qatar denies backing the Brotherhood.

On Monday, Egypt launched airstrikes against suspected Islamic State arms caches and training camps in the eastern Libyan city of Derna after the militant group released a video showing the beheading of 20 Egyptian Christians.

On Wednesday, during deliberations at an Arab League meeting to discuss a joint Arab response to Egypt's airstrikes, 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 advocating 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.

‪The GCC includes Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar.

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