Egypt, Qatar spar over Libya strikes on ISIS
Qatar recalled its ambassador to Egypt yesterday following a row over Cairo’s air strikes on jihadist targets in Libya, threatening fresh divisions among Western-allied Arab states.
A foreign ministry official said Doha was recalling its envoy “for consultation” after Egypt’s delegate to the Arab League accused Qatar of supporting “terrorism”, during discussions on Libya.
Egypt’s new spat with Qatar, which was backed by its Gulf neighbours, came as Libyan officials urged the UN Security Council to lift an arms embargo to allow the country’s military to fight jihadists.
Egyptian F-16s bombed militant bases in the eastern Libyan city of Derna on Tuesday, after ISIS in Libya released a gruesome video showing the beheadings of a group of Egyptian Coptic Christians.
Qatar’s director of Arab affairs in the foreign ministry, Saad bin Ali al-Mohannadi, denounced the “tense” statement by Egypt’s representative to the Arab League, saying it “confuses the need to combat terrorism (with)… the brutal killing and burning of civilians.”
There was no immediate response from Egypt. But Qatar did receive the backing of its Gulf neighbours yesterday.
Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) secretary general Abdullatif al-Zayani said in a statement that it “rejects accusations by Egypt’s permanent envoy at the Arab League that Qatar supports terrorism”.
Ties between Doha and Cairo have been strained in recent years amid a spat over Qatar’s backing for ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi.
Mohannadi’s statement also made clear that Qatar does not want a Libyan arms embargo lifted on “the principle of not strengthening one conflict party against another before the end of the dialogue and the formation of a national unity government”.
Published: 12:00 am Friday, February 20, 2015