Sheikh Tamim bin Hamed Al Thani in his interview with French Le Point Magazine. Photo : Official Qatari News Agency
The Qatari Emir’s remarks came in an interview with the French Le Point Magazine published Wednesday on the last day of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s first-ever two-day visit to Doha.
In a question about the relationship between the Gulf state and the Islamist organisation – outlawed in several Arab countries including Egypt – Emir Tamim stated that Qatar deals with states and their legitimate government and not with political organisations.
“This relationship does not exist, and there are no active members of the Muslim Brotherhood or any related groups on Qatari soil. We are an open country and a large number of people with different opinions and ideas pass through it, but we are a country and not a party, and we deal with countries and their legitimate governments, not with political organisations,” the magazine quoted Emir Tamim as saying.
Egypt designated the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation in 2013, the same year Egypt’s late Islamist President Mohamed Morsi was ousted from power. Since then, bilateral diplomatic and political relations between Egypt and Qatar had been strained over the latter’s alleged support for the Brotherhood.
President El-Sisi said in May 2022 that the Brotherhood had repeatedly threatened to target the army and sow chaos across Egypt, adding that the Brotherhood’s Deputy Supreme Guide Khairat El-Shater – who is currently in prison after having been found guilty in several cases – had threatened him personally when the group ruled the country.
In 2017, Egypt along with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain cut ties and transport links with Qatar, accusing Doha of backing radical Islamist groups chief among them the Brotherhood and cooperating with Iran as well as interfering in other countries’ affairs. Such accusations have been denied by Qatar.
Since January 2021, the three Gulf states along with Egypt have resumed diplomatic ties with Qatar after signing the Al-Ula Declaration, which ended the three-and-half-year diplomatic and economic boycott the four Arab states had placed on Doha.
In the wake of Al-Ula Declaration, Cairo and Doha have agreed to move beyond their disputes and work towards settling all their outstanding issues, forming an Egyptian-Qatari follow-up committee that has held seven rounds of negotiations over the past year, the last of which was in Doha last September.
The course of the follow-up committee has seen the signing of a number of bilateral deals to bolster ties between the two countries, which eventually formed the Egyptian-Qatari High Joint Committee – headed by the two foreign ministers – in March.
According to the Egyptian Presidential Spokesperson Bassam Rady, El-Sisi’s visit to Doha this week was “a culmination of the intensive discussions held recently between the two countries with the aim of strengthening bilateral cooperation on all levels.”
El-Sisi’s visit to Doha comes after Emir Tamim’s visit to Cairo in June, which was his first since the two countries resumed diplomatic ties following the Al-Ula agreement.
“I do not want to talk about the past. We want to look to the future. We have entered a new phase; things are moving in the right direction. We recognise that sometimes, we disagree,” Tamim said when asked by Le Point about the boycott of the four countries, stating that the Gulf Cooperation Council was focusing on the future and is in the process of healing after great shock and turmoil.
“We are now on the right track,” Tamim added.