Qatar is playing an increasingly important role in the Arab world, as it renews
calls for an Arab force to enter Syria and continues to provide money to prop up
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood-led government.
On Sunday, Qatar revived a
proposal for an Arab force to enter Syria if talks fail, according to a report
by Qatar-based Al Jazeera TV.
“It is not a question of intervention in
Syria in favor of one party against the other, but rather a force to preserve
security,” said Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al- Thani on Al
This follows a similar proposal by Qatar made back in
Thani said he supports the efforts by international peace
envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, “but until when? We cannot wait forever on this
Gulf News reported that Thani also set a deadline in the
interview on Al Jazeera, saying that “diplomacy may continue for two or three or
four weeks, but no more because the situation is tragic in Syria and we cannot
justify that we are still talking about solutions and we support talk about
In a statement to the Qatar News Agency, he went on
to say that a political solution to the crisis means that Syrian President
Bashar Assad “has to step down.”
Reuters reported at the end of last week
that Egypt had most likely already spent a $2 billion loan from Qatar last
month. The money was probably used during the political upheavals at the end of
last year that caused the Egyptian pound to plummet against the US
Thus far, Qatar has given Egypt over $4b., with an additional
$2b. that was given to President Mohamed Morsi upon his inauguration last
The Egyptian Central Bank has spent more than $20b. propping up the
pound in the two years since the uprising began.
Last Tuesday, Thani
announced that in addition to the $2b., it had given an extra $500 million.
Turkey also gave $500m. on Thursday, according to Egyptian media
Doha’s latest actions have worried other Arab nations, who think
the country is too aggressively supporting Islamist governments and movements
throughout the region. This comes after Qatari Emir Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa
al-Thani visited Hamas-controlled Gaza in October, pledging $400m.
article titled “Qatar’s control over Egypt,” published at the end of last week
in the Saudi-backed Arab daily, Asharq Al-Awsat, Tariq Alhomayed wrote that the
emir said that reports his country is trying to control Egypt is “a silly
Egypt with its great human and economic assets and potentials
cannot be dominated by any other country.’” Alhomayed went on to counter, “Yet
the story is not about this, rather it is about subversion; lending support for
something and sabotaging something else.
Supporting a specific trend in
Egypt at the expense of another is highly destructive.
It is well known
that Qatar supports the Muslim Brotherhood everywhere, not only in Egypt, and
not only financially but also in the media.”
He went on to refer to
Doha-controlled Al Jazeera TV, which also is pushing its agenda. Its “support
for the Muslim Brotherhood, whether in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya or even the Gulf
States, is puzzling.”
This view was echoed by a report in the Lebanese
paper Al-Safir, which wrote about a rumor that Qatar intends to buy the rights
to the Suez Canal for a period of 99 years – denied by the prime
This news follows rumors that Qatari Director of Intelligence
Ahmed Bin Thani made a secret visit to Egypt last May, allegedly meeting with
Muslim Brotherhood leader Muhammad Badie.
The Egyptian Al-Ahram Weekly
says that Egyptian officials have not denied any potential involvement of Qatar
in the running of the Suez Canal. The paper also quoted officials who said that
Qatari companies and investors were looking at other investment projects in the
One benefit that Doha has possibly gained from its aid is that
Cairo has agreed to a Qatari demand for a rotation of the job of Arab League
secretary-general – which has traditionally been held by Egypt, where the
headquarters of the Arab League is located.
Informed diplomats also told
Al-Ahram Weekly that Qatar has kept Egypt from falling apart.
Gulf countries are following Saudi Arabia’s lead, withholding major aid until
they can figure out in which direction Egyptian policy is headed.
contributed to this report.