The death of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz has prompted a freeze in the reconciliation between Egypt and Qatar after the two sides had agreed, with Saudi mediation, on a “media truce” and a cessation of anti-Egyptian incitement on the Al Jazeera channel broadcast from Qatar.
Recently, virulent anti-Egyptian incitement has resumed in the Qatari print media and on Al Jazeera as if the reconciliation had never taken place.
Egypt accuses the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been outlawed in the country, of being behind this new campaign.
The renewed Egyptian-Qatari tension already goes beyond the anti-Egyptian incitement in the media. At the Munich Security Conference on February 8, 2015, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry left the room when Qatari Foreign Minister Khaled Attiyah began to speak. It now appears that Qatar’s participation in the large-scale economic summit next month at Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh is not at all certain.
The conference, in which 120 countries are supposed to take part, is very important for the rehabilitation of the Egyptian economy, with Egypt expected to try and recruit a sum of over $10 billion.
What Is the Stance of the New Saudi King?
The key to renewing the Egyptian-Qatari reconciliation and stopping the harsh anti-Egyptian incitement campaign is in the hands of the new Saudi king, Salman bin Abdulaziz.
So far there are no signs of his intentions or whether he aims to continue the reconciliation attempts between the two countries launched by his predecessor, King Abdullah.
So far, his policy toward Qatar is also unclear.
Did Egypt’s President Sisi Express Contempt toward the Gulf States?
The new incitement campaign against Egypt centers on the leaked recordings of conversations conducted by Egyptian President Sisi while he served as defense minister, with his bureau chief Abbas Kamel and with Chief of Staff Mahmoud Hijazi. In these conversations Sisi expressed contempt for Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, saying they “have hoards of money” and calling them “quasi-countries.”
So far it is not clear if these are authentic tapes or forgeries, nor the source of the leak. However, the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated TV channel Mekamalin has begun broadcasting the tapes with the active assistance of Al Jazeera, which substantiated them in interviews with Brotherhood leaders who had fled Egypt after President Morsi was ousted.
After the tapes were publicized, Sisi conducted a round of telephone conversations with the new Saudi King, Salman; the Emir of Kuwait, Sabah al-Ahmad; the king of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa; and with the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Ziad.
What was said in these conversations is not known. Some Arab media, however, have reported that the Saudi king promised that Saudi-Egyptian relations would not change.
Some of the Muslim Brotherhood leaders claim, however, that the new Saudi king will alter his predecessor’s policy toward Egypt and improve ties with the Brotherhood.
Turkey Serves as a Platform for Anti-Egyptian Incitement
On February 7, 2015, the prominent Turkish newspaper Hurriyet published a report describing how Turkey permits three Arabic-language satellite channels (Al-Shark, Raba’a, and Masr Alan) affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood to air programs from Turkey that include calls for the deaths of members of the Egyptian army and police.
The report said these channels are also broadcasting threats against foreign citizens living in Egypt and demanding that they leave the country before the Sharm el-Sheikh economic conference on March 13.
The article said further that Muslim Brotherhood leaders living in Istanbul had stepped up their anti-Egyptian activity, believing that the Arab world will undergo a major change in the wake of Saudi King Abdullah’s death.
The Egyptian government charges the Muslim Brotherhood with trying to ignite a new wave of violence in the country aimed at overthrowing Sisi’s government, and says the Brotherhood’s new incitement campaign is intended to sabotage the upcoming economic conference and induce a sense of destabilization and deteriorating security in Egypt.