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There was speculation in late 2014 that Qatar had begun to take a new strategic line, mending relations with Egypt, and that this could also push Turkey toward improving its relations with Cairo. There were also reports that Qatar’s Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr television station, offensive to the Egyptian Government, would be permanently closed as a gesture to Cairo.
This is misleading or incorrect.
Qatar, in fact, has reinforced its strategic position of support for the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan al-Muslimeen) internationally, not only the Egyptian arm of the movement which the Government of Pres. Abdul Fatah al-Sisi had banned. Qatar, in close cooperation with the Islamist Government in Turkey and with Iran, has boosted its support for the Muslim Brothers’ related activities in Libya, Sudan, and else-where.
Qatar, then, is far from back- peddling. It is merely adopting a new public relations approach.
Its new — and internationally ignored — agreement with Sudan (signed in early November 2014), which was completed with Iran’s blessing, is the key, not the disinformation about new “relations” with Egypt, to which Doha committed under immense pressure from Riyadh. Indeed, with Saudi Arabia now preoccu-pied with internal power transition concerns, the pressure on Doha from Riyadh could be expected to diminish.
Qatar remains convinced that the US is set to empower Iran, and Qatar sees itself as Iran’s primary sub-contractor in the Arab world (including pacifying the Saudis and Egyptians, and mediating co-existence with the takfiri jihadists as Doha already did with the al-Qaida elements).
Qatar has been pursuing this strategy/policy more and more brazenly for the past couple of years. As for Turkey, neo-Ottoman Ankara is focused on dominating the Sunni Arab heartland and on containing Egypt (by reinforcing Islamist-jihadist camps in Libya, Sudan, and Gaza-Sinai). In all this, Ankara tries not to alienate or provoke Tehran needlessly: its support for the war against Iran’s principal ally, Syrian Pres. Bashar al-Assad has already earned Ankara the ire of Tehran.
Hence, there is close Qatari cooperation with Turkey and Iran in Libya and Sudan where the Turks fund key Sunni-Islamist activities and weapons acquisition in Libya for the renewed surge into Africa. Qatar is the mediator between Turkey and Iran on these issues. Qatar also funds some programs — including the Gaza-Sinai build-up by HAMAS — for its allies, Turkey and Iran.
Qatar’s moves keep Washington happy, largely because the White House of Pres. Barack Obama faces less criticism of its relationship with Doha — which hosts the most significant portion of US military operations in the Persian Gulf — than it does for its relationship with Turkey. Turkey is now increasingly perceived in Washington as hostile to US and Western interests, making it increasingly difficult for the Obama White House to support Turkey openly, even though Pres. Obama supports the pro-Muslim Brotherhood agendas of Ankara and Doha, and Tehran’s support, for its own purposes, of the Brother-hood.
But the Egyptian Government is far less impressed with the supposed olive branch seemingly proffered from Doha.
By GIS/Defense & Foreign Affairs stations in Doha and Cairo.
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Defense and Foreign Affairs is a geopolitical news publication offered by the International Strategic Studies Association.