Qatar concerned over continued bloodshed in Egypt: QNA

DUBAI Tue Jul 23, 2013 5:24pm EDT

A soldier (R) tries to protect a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporter of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi during clash with anti-Mursi protesters, along Qasr Al Nil bridge, which leads to Tahrir Square, in Cairo July 22, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer

A soldier (R) tries to protect a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporter of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi during clash with anti-Mursi protesters, along Qasr Al Nil bridge, which leads to Tahrir Square, in Cairo July 22, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

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DUBAI (Reuters) - Qatar, a main supporter of Mohamed Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood, expressed concern over bloodshed in Egypt after at least nine people died in clashes between supporters and opponents of the ousted president, the QNA state news agency reported on Tuesday.

The agency said the Qatari Foreign Ministry source also expressed concern over the continued detention of Mursi since the army forced him out of office earlier this month.

Mursi has been held at an undisclosed military facility since the army deposed him on July 3 and suspended the constitution in the wake of street protests against his one-year rule. The army says he is being held for his own safety.

"A responsible source at the Qatari Foreign Ministry expressed his concern over the development of events in sisterly Arab Republic of Egypt, especially after the increasing number of civilian victims," QNA said.

The source also expressed surprise at the continued holding of Mursi since he was ousted earlier this month and said the only way out of the crisis was through dialogue.

"This dialogue is not possible in the absence of one of its parties and the holding of its symbols," it added, referring to Mursi.

Most Gulf Arab states, wary of the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood on Islamists in their own countries, have welcomed the army's ouster of Mursi. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait swiftly offered Egypt $12 billion in aid.

But the army's move unsettled Qatar, which had previously given Egypt $7 billion in aid before Mursi's ouster.

Qatar has seen massive leadership change after the country's ruler for 18 years, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani stepped down in favor of his son, Sheikh Tamim. The leadership change also involved veteran Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani to step down.

(Reporting by Ali Abdelaty; Writing by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Michael Roddy)

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After Egypt’s 2011 revolution, the U.S. was at pains to emphasize to Egypt’s new leaders the value of the rule of law. So it has been discomfiting to watch the Barack Obama administration ignore it since the July 3 overthrow of elected President Mohamed Mursi.
The military takeover was clearly a coup. Yet the U.S. has been pretending otherwise in order to get around a law that requires the suspension of U.S. aid to any country in those circumstances. The administration presumably worries that suspending $1.55 billion in yearly aid, $1.3 billion of which goes to the military, would threaten the peace between Egypt and Israel as well as Egypt’s stability. If true, such thinking suggests the administration needs to update its approach to Egypt.
The aid package to Egypt was originally intended as a reward for making peace with Israel in 1979. That logic no longer holds: There is little danger of Egypt attacking Israel today, not least because its military is vastly inferior to Israel’s. What’s more, U.S. assistance is insignificant compared with the many billions Egypt draws from oil-rich Persian Gulf states.
The Obama administration may fret that suspending the handouts would weaken the relationship between the Egyptian and U.S. militaries. This may be true. But if the relationship wasn’t strong or deep enough to dissuade the Egyptian brass from overthrowing an elected president, maybe it’s not all that valuable in the first place.
In any case, a cutoff of U.S. aid needn’t last long. The administration could work with Congress to legally waive the sanctions. There is a precedent: After the Sept. 11 attacks, President George W. Bush won congressional approval to restore assistance to Pakistan that had been halted because of a 1999 coup led by General Pervez Musharraf.
If it’s going to Congress, the administration might also use the occasion as leverage with Egypt. Mursi is still being held by the military, for example. He should be released. The Egyptian military should stop arresting and working up charges against the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood, as it did during the days of former President Hosni Mubarak. And the restoration of aid should also be conditioned on the holding of new free and fair elections.
Of course, all of this will be something of a charade, because it’s unlikely Congress would deny the administration’s request; only a few members of Congress have so far called for suspending aid to Egypt. At least it would contain the duplicity to the political process instead of casting doubt on the U.S.’s devotion to a core principle such as the rule of law.
It would have been better had U.S. officials thought through all this before the coup in Egypt. The protests that preceded it were planned weeks in advance and spawned speculation of a military takeover. The generals gave Mursi and the world 48 hours’ notice of their action. U.S. foreign policy makers had time to form their response. Instead, they looked worse than unprepared — they looked like dissemblers and hypocrites.
The sooner the lapse is corrected, the better. Certainly it should be fixed before the U.S. and other world powers begin a fresh round of negotiations with Iran, under a new president, over its nuclear program. In geopolitics, credibility is a currency at least as important as guns and money. America’s could use a boost.

Jul 23, 2013 11:43pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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