The removal of the Muslim Brotherhood from power sparked a period of tense relations between Egypt and Qatar, which backed the formerly ruling Islamist regime, headed by President Mohamed Morsi.
However, since the military backed ouster of the Brotherhood in the summer of 2013, the relationship between the two states went through several phases, including periods of public feuds, subtle hostilities and reluctant peace. Many see the return of the Qatari ambassador to Cairo today as a sign of the end of the turbulence, or at least its latest round.
Mada Masr presents the six most heated battles in the recent spree of hostilities between the two countries.
In January 2014, the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement expressing concerns about what it described as the increasing number of victims in protests and the mounting number of deaths in Egypt. Thirteen had been reported killed that week in anti-government protests.
As a result, Qatar’s ambassador to Cairo was summoned by Assistant Foreign Minister for Arab Affairs Nasser Kamel. Kamel said that Egypt rejects any statement issued by the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the political situation in Egypt. Days later, the Egyptian government said it would recall its ambassador in Qatar back to Cairo for talks in reaction to “the unacceptable Qatari intervention in Egypt’s internal affairs.”
The feud flared up again during the Israeli offensive on Gaza in July 2014, after Qatar rejected a ceasefire initiative proposed by Egypt which had the support of the Arab League and the UN Security Council. Qatar subsequently created a counter initiative in collaboration with Turkey.
In August 2014, the head of Egypt’s Central Bank announced that Qatar has demanded Egypt to return a deposit meant initially to be made into bonds. By September, Egypt had returned US2 billion to Qatar, in what was seen as a statement of independence against Qatari intervention.
In November, late Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz proposed a peace initiative to Egypt and Qatar, in the context of a larger reconciliatory attempt to rectify the relationship between Qatar and other Gulf states dubbed “the Riyadh agreement.”
The Egyptian presidency welcomed the initiative, a move that was followed by a similar statement from Qatar asserting that it supports Egypt and its security.
Several acts of good faith followed, including Qatar closing Aljazeera Mubashir Misr, which had long been seen by the Egyptian administration as hostile. Qatar had already extended an olive branch to the Egyptian government in September by forcing seven Brotherhood leaders to leave the country.
The relationship experienced tension again after an Arab League meeting in February 2015, when Qatar objected to an article that would allow Egypt to bomb ISIS targets in Libya. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry responded with a statement calling Qatar supportive of terrorism. Qatar, in response, withdrew its ambassador to Cairo.
Hostilities between the two states began to thaw, however, with the recent Arab League summit held in Sharm el-Sheikh. Speculations of rapprochement began when President Sisi welcomed Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani at the airport.
On April 1, the Qatari ambassador returned to Cairo and Egypt said it was still considering the returning its ambassador to Doha.