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Qatar’s control over Egypt - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim says that what is being said about his country trying to control Egypt is a “silly joke”, adding that “Egypt with its great human and economic assets and potentials cannot be dominated by any other country”. Of course, Sheikh Hamad’s words are true and accurate, given that former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak could not control Egypt, nor could President Mursi, for Egypt’s problems are too big for anybody to control. Yet the story is not about this, rather it is about subversion; lending support for something and sabotaging something else. Supporting a specific trend in Egypt at the expense of another is highly destructive. It is well known that Qatar supports the Muslim Brotherhood everywhere, not only in Egypt, and not only financially but also in the media.

One may argue that there is no harm in this, for there are those that support liberal currents and so on elsewhere in the Arab World, so it is the Qataris right to support the Muslim Brotherhood. This is true, but what exactly are Doha’s reasons for supporting the Brotherhood? Qatar is making efforts in all areas because Doha is a progressive capital seeking development, but Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood, whether in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya or even the Gulf States, is puzzling. Qatari society, for example, is far more Salafi-orientated than many would imagine, in accordance with the doctrine of Sheikh Mohammed Ibn Abd al-Wahhab. This makes the country’s media and political support for the Muslim Brotherhood puzzling and surprising, not only in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, but also in Syria, Jordan, and the Gulf States, and even in countries where the presence of the Brotherhood is not well known.

My intention here is not to defame Qatar but rather to ask a question that needs to be asked, yet which has yet to be answered. Why, for example, is there Qatari enthusiasm for the Brotherhood, and not only at the level of the Egyptian state but also at the level of a political movement like Hamas?

I write this article having visited Qatar. Anyone who visits Doha would find that it is a magical city, and this is something that must be supported, but Qatar’s policy, specifically towards the Muslim Brotherhood, needs to be explained. When Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim says the idea of Qatar seeking to control Egypt is a silly joke, this is true, but the danger lies in supporting certain trends and movements at the expense of the concept of the state. This is a real danger that would impact upon the region as a whole, and on Qatar itself.

So the story is not about controlling Egypt, for the land of Egypt will ultimately prevail over all those who seek to control it, but the real issue, and the danger, lies in political, media and financial subversion, whether in Egypt or elsewhere, where the concept of the state is distorted. This is the danger, so will Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim explain the rationale behind his country’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood? At this point, we will either understand the rationale behind it, or we may be able to explain Qatar’s error in advocating the Brotherhood’s project not only in Egypt but in the entire region.

The worry is not that Qatar will control Egypt, but rather that the Muslim Brotherhood will attempt to. This would result in the loss of the civil state, and this is the crux of the matter.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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