The analyses have varied on the results of the Riyadh Agreement signed by the Gulf states, as the beginning of a reconciliation between Qatar on the one hand, and Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain on the other.
Official Gulf sources have asserted that Qatar has made concessions that include deporting the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood from Doha, preventing them from appearing on Al Jazeera TV, and deporting preacher Yusuf al-Qaradawi. But sources in Doha and the Muslim Brotherhood denied to Al-Masry al-Youm the deportation scenario.
Qatari, Emirati and Muslim Brotherhood sources said that Qatar made no concessions in the reconciliation and that the meeting did not discuss the Egypt issue or Al Jazeera, but that Doha made one concession to not harbor any Saudi or Emirati nationals who belong to the Muslim Brotherhood and to deport them to Britain or Turkey, or to a place of their choice — as a “face-saving” solution for Riyadh and Abu Dhabi. They also asked Qatar to strip oppositionist Saudi writer Mohammad al-Ahmari of his Qatari nationality, but Doha rejected that request.
In turn, Doha-based leadership figures in the Brotherhood and the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy told Al-Masry al-Youm that Qatar did not change its position toward them, did not ban their appearance on Al Jazeera and did not ask them to leave the country.
Ihab Shaiha, the head of the Asala Party, said that he has assurances that the Saudi-Qatari agreement to end the crisis among the Gulf states will be limited to keeping Saudi oppositionists away from Doha, pointing out that Qatar made commitments to the Saudi regime about expelling leaders from the alliance and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Shaiha asserted, “Saudi Arabia is going through an internal crisis after failing in two areas: Syria and Egypt. And that required changes in the intelligence services,” pointing out that Qatar has pledged to Saudi Arabia to expel opponents of the Saudi regime to save the kingdom’s face. About Qaradawi and the news that he may be moving to Tunisia, he said that this did not happen and that Qaradawi is still in Qatar.
Doha resident Qutb al-Arabi, the former assistant secretary-general of the Supreme Council of the Press and an official in the Justice and Freedom Party, said in a statement to Al-Masry al-Youm, “What some media outlets reported didn’t happen. Perhaps you should watch Al Jazeera’s coverage of the demonstrations today, whether the main Al Jazeera or Al Jazeera Egypt. [You will see that they are broadcasting as before.]”
Arabi continued, “Many of the symbols and faces of the National Alliance and of the Supporters of Legitimacy have appeared Thursday and Friday, and even on Monday on Al Jazeera.”
Gamal Abdel Sattar, a leader in the alliance, said, “There has been no change in our relationship with the government or the people, but we are seeing affection and welcoming by everyone without exception.”
A source in the alliance said that the UAE and Saudi Arabia have no influence on Qatar and that the alliance’s leaders still appear on Al Jazeera and attack the “coup” and the Gulf states, pointing out that, as of Sunday evening, many Brotherhood leaders were still coming to Doha and the government was still issuing them residency permits.
Saleh bin Afssan al-Kuwari, the editor of the Qatari newspaper Al-Raya, denied that Qatar may have changed its position toward the Brotherhood, whether the residents or those abroad, stressing that Doha continues to care for the group and its leaders everywhere in the world.
In an article Monday titled “Qatar … tolerance and firmness on the principles and attitudes,” Kuwari denied “rumors and fabrications” that falsely and slanderously claim Qatar has made concessions to turn the page of disagreement with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and Bahrain, or to restore diplomatic relations to what they were, or that insinuate Qatar was given two months to confirm its commitment and its goodwill, as is being promoted by the advocates of evil and strife who do not like to see the Gulf united.
Kuwari said that according to “reliable, honest and sincere” sources, the Gulf is cohesive and the rumors in this regard are false. He added, “I say with all confidence that those who try and strive to promote such [falsehoods]: ‘You have failed,’ because in all simplicity there is nothing in this statement that indicates or hints about concessions or dictates or pressures on this or that. … About the issue and file of Egypt, which was the reason for the Gulf dispute, I assert that the foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) did not address this file in their last meeting and it was not on their meeting agenda.”
Informed UAE sources denied to Al-Jumhur al-Ikhbari al-Imarati website that Qatar said it intends to reduce the harshness of Al Jazeera‘s news coverage on Egypt. The sources said that the talk about deporting the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood who are in Qatar is unfounded.
In the same context, Qaradawi reiterated in a statement that he is not moving his residence from Doha to Tunis, or to any other capital. Qaradawi said, “I have been in Qatar for more than 53 years. I preach, lecture, issue religious edicts, study, pray, write and express the position of Islam as I see it, in all freedom. Nobody ever told me ‘say this’ or ‘don’t say that’ or ‘why didn’t you say that.’ … I love all the countries of the Gulf. And all of them love me: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Oman and Bahrain, and I consider all these countries as one country and one house. I knew all their kings and princes and was close to all of them. And I participated in unpaid work to guide and build them. I still hope that this [dark cloud] goes away. And it will go away soon, God willing,” referring to the crisis of the withdrawal of ambassadors of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain from Qatar on March 5.
Yemeni activist Tawakul Karman said that the Riyadh Agreement between the countries of the Gulf represents a retreat from the decision to withdraw the ambassadors from Qatar and a face-saving way for the countries that made the decision, noting that Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood did not conspire against the Gulf states.
Karman said to Al-Masry al-Youm on Saturday, “Qatar is a victim of violation against its sovereignty by Gulf states that supported and conspired against Egypt’s elected president and found it too much to refrain from supporting the coup or offer media support to those who reject [the coup].”
Karman said that the statement from the ministerial meeting did not call on expelling the Muslim Brotherhood from Qatar, pointing out that “Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood [members] are in prisons and on the streets, not in Qatar. They don’t need to go to Doha but to the [streets] to fight the struggle in its details.”
According to London-based Al-Arab newspaper, Saudi official sources indicated that Qatar, as confirmed by Prince Tamim bin Hamad, will expel the Brotherhood from Doha and stop their support abroad.
The Saudi source expected the Gulf counties to wait two months to assess Qatar’s cooperation with them in various fields, including stopping the incitement to violence coming from media outlets belonging to Doha.
The sources expressed fears that Doha may fail to meet its obligations once again in light of the Muslim Brotherhood’s influence inside Qatar, but the available information indicates that Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa gave the green light to his son, Prince Tamim, to smoothly implement the commitments.
Sources close to Qatar’s Emiri Court told Al-Arab in Saturday’s issue that strict orders were issued for “some Brotherhood leaders who have sought refuge in Doha to not talk to the media,” stressing that “it comes as a step to deport them to countries such as Turkey and Sudan soon.”
Abdel-Bari Atwan, the editor-in-chief of Rai al-Youm, a London-based newspaper, said that Qatar accepting the terms of the Riyadh Agreement, which it signed last Thursday, is a retreat from its position to support the Muslim Brotherhood, pointing out that the Qatari-Turkish-Muslim Brotherhood alliance is now threatened and facing serious trouble.
In an article in Rai al-Youm, Atwan wrote, “Mr. Khalid al-Attiyah, Qatar’s foreign minister, on Thursday evening, and in an emergency meeting of foreign ministers in the Gulf Cooperation Council at a military base in Riyadh, signed the ‘Riyadh document’ and formally pledged in front of the five ministers that the [document] will be implemented. He refused to sign that document at the last meeting of the GCC ministers, which was held in Riyadh a month earlier.”
Atwan explained that it is necessary to conclude that had Qatar not backed down from its positions, which created the “crisis,” and had it not accepted all the terms of the three countries, which withdrew their ambassadors from Doha, then the agreement would not have been signed. He said that the conditions by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain for reconciling with Qatar were difficult, almost unacceptable, and Qatar dragged its feet before agreeing to the document to buy time and find itself a way out.
Continue reading this article by registering at no cost and get unlimited access to:
- The award-winning Middle East Lobbying - The Influence Game
- Archived articles
- Exclusive events
- The Week in Review
- Lobbying newsletter delivered weekly