- Special Pages
H E Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah Minister of State for Foreign Affairs
DOHA: Qatar has denied it has any leanings towards the Muslim Brotherhood and said it has to deal with the organisation because it is in power in Egypt.
“Qatar maintains a neutral stand vis-à-vis governments in the Arab world and has no particular inclination towards any political force or government,” said the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, H E Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah.
He was a panelist at a discussion on ‘Rising Powers in the Region: Challenges and International Engagement’ at Al Jazeera Forum here yesterday. He said: “Qatar doesn’t believe in supporting a particular political force or government and offending another”.
After the revolution in Egypt, Doha extended its support to the Egyptian people and struck a deal for cooperation with the military council that was in power at the time.
Qatar’s relations with all political groupings in Egypt are cordial. “But protocol demands that we deal at the official level with the government and since the Islamic Movement (read: Muslim Brotherhood) is in the government we must deal with them.”
The support Doha is extending to Cairo is a result of the cooperation agreement that was signed with the military council before the election. “After the election, the Islamic Movement (the Brotherhood) rode to power.”
Similarly, Qatar was backing the people of Libya during the uprising and after a government was installed, it is dealing with the latter.
“Qatar’s policy in the region vis-à-vis its neighbours, including Iran, is that of zero-problem. We are part of the solution not the problem.” Al Attiyah said that Qatar enjoys good relations with its neighbors, including Iran, despite the differences over the Syrian issue
Qatar wants to see a strong Iran because that will be strategically important for the region. Refuting accusations that Qatar sings its own tune in the region, the minister said it was not true.
“All the GCC states have a united stand on the Syrian issue and are coordinating with one another. So where is the question of Qatar toeing an independent line,” asked Al Attiyah.
Meanwhile, the visiting information minister of Egypt told Al Sharq in an interview that members of the ousted regime in his country were responsible for spreading rumours against Qatar because they felt resentful about Al Jazeera TV channel.
Al Jazeera, said Saleh Abdul Maqsood, is considered an epitome of free media in the Arab world and its contribution to the Arab Spring by giving an opportunity to the opposition forces to put across their viewpoint, is undeniable.
The minister who is here to attend Al Jazeera Forum said that even the late Muammar Gadafi was critical of Qatar and Al Jazeera because of its fair coverage of the uprising in Libya.
“Some people don’t like the rising political influence of Qatar in the region as it is a champion of free media,” the minister said referring to Al Jazeera.
Talking of criticism of Qatar by sections of the Egyptian media, Abdul Maqsood said it should not be taken seriously because it is part of a malicious campaign waged by members of the ousted regime.
Rumours were spread that Suez Canal was being sold out to Qatar and then the talk of selling radio and TV stations began. “These are baseless rumours,” said the Minister.
“We are proud of Qatar. Most Egyptians view Qatar as a brotherly country. They know Qatar is a true friend. Some elements don’t like this so they spread rumours,” said Abdul Maqsood.
He said not only Qatar but other GCC states like the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait were also extending assistance to Egypt, so why target Qatar alone.
Asked why President Mohammed Mursi has not visited Qatar and whether he is afraid of media criticism, the information minister said he is expected to be here on March 26 to attend the Arab Summit.