EGYPT Doha and Cairo left behind the ‘war’ against the Muslim Brotherhood

An Egyptian delegation participated these days in the Qatar Economic Forum. A smiling al-Sisi met with Qatar’s emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. They signed economic agreements, partnerships and a multi-point memorandum of understanding. The axis between the Gulf countries is reinforced in the face of the difficulties linked to the pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine.

Doha () – The strengthening of the bilateral relationship, economic cooperation and a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) characterized by strategic investments in many sectors are some of the points that marked the visit of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to Qatar, after years of tensions between the two countries stemming from a diametrically opposed relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood. This brings Doha back more and more to the bloc of Gulf nations and leaves behind a recent past of head-on clashes with Saudi Arabia and regional economic and diplomatic isolation.

On the sidelines of the Qatar Economic Forum, Egyptian Finance Minister Mohamed Maait and his Qatari counterpart Ali bin Ahmed Al Kuwari signed a multi-point agreement. The objective, some official sources in Cairo explain, is “to promote joint cooperation, coordinate visions, positions and financial policies at the bilateral level and in international forums.”

The memorandum also has the purpose of promoting the exchange of knowledge in the fields of tax, customs and financial policies, as well as contributing to the achievement of economic and growth objectives. Thanks to the agreement it will also be possible to regulate -and prevent- double taxation between the parties, in order to stimulate joint investments.

Al-Sisi’s visit to Qatar is just the last piece of a complex diplomatic game between the two countries and at a regional level, in which the economic element has overcome -and filed away- the internal divisions of the Islamic world. The process has been aided by the war in Ukraine and the diplomatic and financial repercussions throughout the Middle East region, compounded by fears of a shrinking global economy and an uncertain geopolitical future.

A photo of the Egyptian president smiling and shaking hands in Doha, starting with Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. Relations between Cairo and Doha were abruptly interrupted, to which was added a strong tension with the coming to power of the current president in 2014, after the dismissal of his predecessor Mohamed Morsi, an expression of that Muslim Brotherhood that supported Doha and a staunch enemy (in addition to the Egyptian army) of Saudi Arabia and Wahhabite Islam.

The conflicts erupted in 2017, and produced a deep fracture within the Gulf, when Riyadh and its allies (Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain) severed diplomatic relations with Doha, leaving it isolated from the rest of the region. Qatari leaders have always rejected, at least verbally, the accusation of having links with the Brotherhood, whom other countries consider a “terrorist” movement.

At that time, Egypt was one of the most active countries in attacking Doha, even accusing it of interfering in internal affairs and using the al-Jazeera network to spread false information and tarnish Cairo’s image in the world. Many analysts see the new unity of purpose as yet another sign that regional governments are setting aside the events of recent history to look to the future with a view to collaboration and strengthening economic ties.

A Qatari-funded luxury hotel whose construction had been halted long ago by the diplomatic rift opened in the Egyptian capital earlier this year. In June, the emir made his first visit to Egypt since 2015. On that occasion, Qatar promised to invest five billion euros to revive the economy of the country of the pharaohs, which was in a difficult time due to the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic and Russia’s war in Ukraine, countries on which it depended for tourism and the supply of cereals.

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Written by Editor TLN

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