News Analysis: Will reconciliation deal end rift between Egypt and Qatar?

Source: Xinhua| 2021-01-10 22:09:53|Editor: huaxia

by Mahmoud Fouly, Abdel-Meguid Kamal

CAIRO, Jan. 10 (Xinhua) -- The recent reconciliation agreement signed in Saudi Arabia by Qatar and the boycotting states is a "positive step" through which Egypt and Qatar showed good faith to resume bilateral relations, said Egyptian and Qatari experts.

While Qatari analysts expect the deal to ease differences between Cairo and Doha and mark a new beginning for their ties based on mutual understanding and respect, Egyptian counterparts see that complete resumption of ties may take some time in light of "outstanding issues" to be addressed.

Last week, Qatar and the Arab quartet comprising Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt signed a Kuwaiti-sponsored reconciliation deal in Al-Ula city in northwestern Saudi Arabia during the 41st Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit.

The four states jointly cut diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar in June 2017, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism and interfering in their internal affairs, which Qatar has repeatedly denied.

But tension between Cairo and Doha specifically soared following the removal in 2013 of former President Mohamed Morsi, an ally of Qatar who belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood group, which is currently blacklisted in Egypt as a terrorist organization.

"I believe that what happened at Al-Ula summit is a positive step," said Egyptian political science professor Tarek Fahmy, yet adding that complete reconciliation will need "some time" dependent on Qatari response to Egyptian political and security requirements.

He continued that the improvement of the Egyptian-Qatari relations requires Qatar to halt the alleged campaigns launched by Doha-based Muslim Brotherhood media against Egypt, "as well as giving up support for the Brotherhood terrorist group."

Fahmy said that Egypt signed the reconciliation deal to maintain a united position of the quartet and its commitment to the Arab national security, ruling out the possibility that Egypt was pressured to sign the agreement.

The same day when the deal was signed, Qatari finance minister flew to Cairo where he, along with his Egyptian and U.S. counterparts, inaugurated a hotel owned by a Qatari company.

"The Qatari finance minister's visit to Cairo has a symbolic indication of good faith," the Egyptian professor told Xinhua, adding that everyone surely aspires for the achievement of Arab unity.

For his part, Atef Saadawi, an expert at Cairo-based Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies (ACPSS), said that Egypt proved good intention and support for Arab unity through signing the reconciliation deal.

He argued that it's a matter of commitment rather than signature.

"The improvement of the Egyptian-Qatari relations certainly depends on Qatar's response to the Egyptian demands," the ACPSS expert told Xinhua, noting that the demands include stopping Doha's alleged interference in the Egyptian domestic affairs and support for the Muslim Brotherhood.

In an interview with Al-Jazeera TV following the Gulf summit, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said that Al-Ula agreement was an initial document with stated principles, while relations will be dealt with bilaterally.

"Egypt is a party in the crisis ... there will be bilateral discussions between concerned states and bilateral committees to deal with the differences ... we have the will to resolve these differences," said the Qatari top diplomat.

Meanwhile, Qatari experts expected Al-Ula agreement to open "a new page" in bilateral relations between Doha and Cairo and put an end to their disagreements.

Besides the governments of the states engaged in the reconciliation, the agreement was hailed by international and regional organizations including the United Nations and the Arab League.

"The statements made after Al-Ula summit confirm that there is a real will to heal the rift," Qatari journalist and blogger Hamad Al-Buainain told Xinhua, emphasizing that relations have to be based on solid foundations and their difference in viewpoints is possible.

"Qatar has demonstrated its good intentions, and I expect Al-Ula agreement to mark a new beginning for relations based on mutual understanding and respect," he added.

With regards to full resumption of ties between Doha and Cairo, Al-Buainain quoted the Qatari foreign minister as saying that there will be mutual visits and meetings to discuss future solutions, and joint committees to address issues in detail on the basis of respect for the international law. Enditem