Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

First GCC statement over Qatar-Egypt spat unilateral: Gulf official
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A general view of the meeting of leaders during the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit in Doha on December 9, 2014. (AFP Photo/STR)

A general view of the meeting of leaders during the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit in Doha on December 9, 2014.
(AFP Photo/STR)

Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) statement backing Qatar in a recent row with Egypt was issued without consulting all member states and “does not represent the full view” of the organization, a Gulf official told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, a senior Gulf official said the statement, in which the GCC dismissed Egypt’s accusations that Qatar supports terrorism, was “unilaterally issued.”

The dispute between Egypt and Qatar unfurled after Egypt’s envoy to the Arab League, Tariq Adel, said Qatar “supports terrorism” during a meeting of the league on Wednesday, after Doha’s foreign ministry official expressed reservations about Egypt’s airstrikes on Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) positions in Libya.

Qatar responded by recalling its ambassador to Cairo for consultations, a step that threatened to rekindle tensions between the two countries.

Qatar and Egypt only recently reconciled their differences over the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

In an official statement on Thursday GCC Secretary General Abdullatif Al-Zayani said the organization “rejects accusations by Egypt’s permanent envoy at the Arab League that Qatar supports terrorism.”

“[The accusations] contradict reality, and ignore the sincere efforts by Qatar as well as the Gulf Cooperation Council and Arab states in combating terrorism and extremism at all levels,” the statement added.

However, in a subsequent statement on Thursday the GCC offered Egypt its full backing.

The first statement caused dismay within the six-member organization as it “did not represent the full view of the Gulf states,” the official said.

The GCC always offers its full backing for the Egyptian government, he maintained, adding that “the [first] statement seems to have been issued unilaterally and hurriedly.”

The statement was prepared and sent to the GCC general-secretariat, which posted it on its website and circulated it to official Gulf news agencies, according to the source.

Usually, statements are issued with the agreement of all member states, the official maintained. “If [an issue] concerns a GCC member state, the foreign ministry of that state is the one concerned with responding.”

“There are some issues previously agreed upon by the council . . . but with new ones the GCC secretary general usually seeks the opinion of member states.”

In comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Badr Abdelati said the spat would not affect relations with other GCC members: “Such issues do not impact communication between the two sides [Egypt and GCC].”

He warned that some unidentified players are seeking to undermine Egypt-GCC ties.

Another Gulf official affirmed that Cairo’s dispute with Doha would not affect ties with the rest of the GCC member states.

Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain all returned their ambassadors to Qatar in November, 2014 after a seven-month dispute over Doha’s alleged support for Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.