Qatar gets GCC backing in Libya row with Egypt

Qatar gets GCC backing in Libya row with Egypt
Updated 21 February 2015

Qatar gets GCC backing in Libya row with Egypt

Qatar gets GCC backing in Libya row with Egypt

Qatar recalled its ambassador to Egypt on Thursday following a row over Cairo’s air strikes on terrorist targets in Libya, threatening fresh divisions between the two Arab countries.
A Foreign Ministry official said Doha was recalling its envoy “for consultation” after Egypt’s delegate to the Arab League accused Qatar of supporting “terrorism,” during discussions on Libya.
Egypt’s new spat with Qatar, which was backed by its Gulf neighbors, came as Libyan officials urged the UN Security Council to lift an arms embargo to allow the country’s military to fight militants.
Qatar and most other Gulf Arab nations have joined the US-led coalition, which is waging airstrikes against the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group in Iraq and Syria.
The regional rift may complicate US efforts to forge a united front against IS in Egypt’s neighbor Libya, where militants are trying to establish another stronghold.
US President Barack Obama on Wednesday urged Muslim leaders to unite and reject the “false promises of extremism” and militants’ claims to represent Islam.
Cairo’s envoy Tariq Adel made his accusation, according to Egyptian media, after Doha’s representative expressed reservations over a clause in a communiqué welcoming the air strikes on IS targets in Libya.
The communiqué was released at the end of an ambassador-level Arab League meeting in Cairo.
Egyptian F-16s bombed militant bases in the eastern Libyan city of Derna on Tuesday, after the IS in Libya released a gruesome video showing the beheadings of a group of Egyptian Coptic Christians who had gone to the North African country seeking work.
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.”
Al-Mohannadi added though that Qatar “is supportive and will always remain supportive of the will and stability of the Egyptian people.”
GCC Secretary General Abdullatif Al-Zayani said in a statement that the six-member group rejects Egypt’s accusations against Qatar. “These accusations are baseless, distort the truth and ignore the sincere efforts Qatar has exerted with its GCC neighbors to combat terrorism and extremism on all its levels,” he said.
Ties between Doha and Cairo have been strained in recent years amid a spat over Qatar’s backing for ousted Egyptian president Muhammad Mursi.
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.”
Despite Qatar’s concerns, the Arab League put out a statement on Wednesday expressing its “complete understanding” over Egypt’s airstrikes and threw its weight behind Cairo’s call for a lifting of the arms embargo on the Libyan Army.
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