Thursday, July 4, 2013

"“Qatar got it wrong in Libya, then Syria and now billions of dollars could go down the pan in Egypt”

"... Qatar has poured $8bn of financial support into Egypt, and has been the main Gulf backer of Mr Morsi’s government even if it began its support before he took over.If Cairo is the centre of the Arab world, Qatar’s support for post-Mubarak Egypt has run to the heart of Doha’s backing of Islamist groups since the revolutions of the Arab uprising swept across north Africa.
Its legacy will be associated with that of the leader whose presidency was doomed on Wednesday.
“The climate surrounding Qatar’s foreign policy right now is a sense that they need to manage relationships a bit better,” said Michael Stephens of the Royal United Services Institute in Doha. “The Egyptian crisis is a heavy millstone around Qatar’s neck.”
Doha’s rise from regional mediator to activist was co-ordinated by the former emir and the recently departed foreign and prime minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim....
They backed brotherhood rebel brigades in Libya who helped overturn the regime but now scare others with their formidable armed influence even after doing badly in elections. Doha’s support for the Syrian “brothers” has carved the opposition into a disparate force viewed with suspicion by its western backers.
Now as Mr Morsi loses power, the crisis could plunge Egypt into a period of dangerous instability.
Diplomats say Mr bin Jassim, as well as his deputy who has been promoted to run the foreign ministry, have over the past few months realised the backlash that Qatar’s enthusiastic backing of Mr Morsi was creating.
But while Sheikh Tamim, the new emir, is hinting at a moderation of Qatar’s adventurist foreign policy, analysts say any change will be gradual as Doha’s position is so deeply set.
The links between Qatar and Mr Morsi are rooted in deeper links between the Gulf state and the pan-regional Islamist movement.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual leader, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, has lived on and off in Doha for decades, using the Gulf state as a base to project his often controversial sermons.
The government-owned Al Jazeera channel has also drawn fire from critics who say it has descended from a groundbreaking independent broadcaster into a platform for Brotherhood views.
Such perceived bias is more fodder for the liberals who warn of creeping Qatari influence in nascent Arab democracies. They claim Doha is backing a Trojan horse for theocracy.
Gulf states are also concerned about upstart Qatar’s objectives, leaving Doha increasingly isolated.
The United Arab Emirates, Qatar’s neighbour, has waged a war of words with Muslim Brotherhood officials.
The UAE has spearheaded a crackdown on domestic Islamists, portraying them as brotherhood lackeys conspiracy aiming to bring down the Gulf monarchies.
Ahmed Shafiq, ousted President Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister, quickly flew into exile in Abu Dhabi after narrowly losing to Mr Morsi in last year’s presidential elections.
As this Gulf proxy cold war in Egypt heats up, Emirati and Saudi money is waiting to help any interim administration keep the Egyptian economy afloat.
“Qatar got it wrong in Libya, then Syria and now billions of dollars could go down the pan in Egypt,” says one economist. “That money was meant to buy political advantage, but they backed the wrong horse.”...."

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