GCC states back Qatar in row with Egypt

GCC Secretary-General Abdullatif Al Zayani said in a statement he “rejects accusations by Egypt’s permanent envoy at the Arab League that Qatar supports terrorism”.

By (AFP)

Published: Sat 21 Feb 2015, 1:02 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 9:56 PM

Riyadh — Gulf Arab states threw their support behind Qatar on Thursday in a row with Egypt, which accused Doha of backing “terrorism” during heated discussions about Cairo’s air strikes on militants in Libya.

Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretary General Abdullatif Al Zayani said in a statement he “rejects accusations by Egypt’s permanent envoy at the Arab League that Qatar supports terrorism”.

Qatar has recalled its ambassador to Egypt over the spat.

Zayani said the accusations are “unfounded, contradict reality, and ignore the sincere efforts by Qatar as well as the Gulf Cooperation Council and Arab states in combatting terrorism and extremism at all levels.”

The Egyptian accusation came in response to reservations voiced by Qatar about a clause in an Arab League statement supporting “Egypt’s right to legitimately defend itself and measures taken to confront terrorism and air strikes carried out against Daesh in Libya,” Cairo’s official Mena news agency said.

The reservations “reveal Qatar’s position in supporting terrorism,” Mena quoted Egypt’s envoy at the Arab League, Tariq Adel, as saying.

Qatar’s director of Arab affairs in the foreign ministry, Saad bin Ali Al Mohannadi, said Doha had expressed reservations over welcoming the raids, stressing the need for “consultations before any unilateral military action against another member state”.

The ministry denounced the “tense” statement by Egypt’s representative to the Arab League, saying it “confuses the need to combat terrorism (with)... the brutal killing and burning of civilians.”

Mohannadi added though that Qatar “is supportive and will always remain supportive of the will and stability of the Egyptian people”.

Ties between Doha and Cairo have been strained in recent years amid a spat over Qatar’s backing for ousted Egyptian president Mohammed Mursi.

Ties reached a low point after Mursi was toppled by the army in 2013. In December, however, there was a thaw after Qatar gave its full support to President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi.

Mohannadi’s statement also made clear that Qatar does not want a Libyan arms embargo lifted on “the principle of not strengthening one conflict party against another before the end of the dialogue and the formation of a national unity government”.

Libyan Foreign Minister Mohammed Al Dairi had appealed to the UN Security Council on Wednesday to lift the embargo.

“Libya needs a decisive stance from the international community to help us build our national army’s capacity and this would come through a lifting of the embargo on weapons, so that our army can receive material and weapons, so as to deal with this rampant terrorism,” he said.

The UN embargo was imposed in 2011 after the uprising that ousted longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

There is increasing concern that some militias inside Libya have pledged allegiance to Daesh, following the beheading of 21 Copts.

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