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Dispute not Egypt-Qatar, but Qatar against most Arab states: FM official

No plan to return Egyptian ambassador to Qatar, says foreign ministry, in the wake of a joint recall of Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain's ambassadors to the Gulf state

Ahram Online, Wednesday 5 Mar 2014
Nasr Kamel, an aide to Egypt
Nasr Kamel, an aide to Egypt's foreign ministry (Photo: Al-Ahram)

Egypt's foreign ministry will not return its ambassador to Qatar, a move that looks to further diplomatically isolate the Gulf state on the same day that three other Arab countries withdrew their Qatari ambassadors.

Nasr Kamel, an aide to Egypt's foreign ministry, said that the ambassador – who has been in Egypt since early February – will not be returned for political reasons.

Kamel said the decision was in protest over Qatari intervention in the Egypt's internal affairs and for not handing over Egyptians wanted by prosecutors on criminal charges, according to Al-Ahram's Arabic news website.

Relations between Egypt and Qatar have soured since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last July. Egypt's interim authorities have accused Qatar of backing Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, from which he hailed.

Kamel's statements on Wednesday come hours after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain issued a joint statement withdrawing their ambassadors from Qatar.

In the statement, the three Gulf states said that Qatar had failed to honour a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) agreement regarding "non-intervention in other states' internal affairs and refraining from supporting all who threaten the security of the council."

The move by Saudi, the UAE and Bahrain proves that Qatar is in dispute with most Arab States and not just Egypt, Kamel said.

He added that Qatar must realign its position on common interests and solidarity with Arab countries by refraining from situations that fuel discord and division.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain have pledged billions of dollars in economic aid to Egypt's interim government since Morsi's ouster.

Kamel concluded that Qatar has been broadcasting false information regarding developments in Egypt, a reference to the Qatari-owned Al-Jazeera news channel.

Egypt is currently prosecuting 20 journalists working for Al-Jazeera English, including four foreigners.

The 16 Egyptians are charged with joining a terrorist organisation – a reference to the Muslim Brotherhood, officially designated a terrorist group in December – as well as harming national unity and social peace.

The foreigners – an Australian, two Brits and a Dutch – are accused of "airing false news" in order to "undermine the state's status and disrupt public security," according to the prosecution.

Eight defendants are being held in custody while the others, including the two Brits, are being tried in absentia.

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