Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and UAE compete for influence in Egypt

    Wednesday, July 10, 2013   No comments

 Two of the Persian Gulf’s richest monarchies pledged $8 billion in cash and loans to Egypt on Tuesday, a decision that was aimed not only at shoring up a shaky transitional government, but also at undermining their Islamist rivals and strengthening their allies across a newly turbulent Middle East.

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Qatar, in alliance with Turkey, has given strong financial and diplomatic support to the Muslim Brotherhood, but also to other Islamists operating on the battlefields of Syria and, before that, Libya. Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, by comparison, have sought to restore the old, authoritarian order, fearful that Islamist movements and calls for democracy would destabilize their own nations.

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The Qataris suffered two other, lesser setbacks in recent days: on Monday, 22 journalists at Al Jazeera resigned en masse, citing what they said was the station’s biased coverage of the Brotherhood. Al Jazeera’s bias in favor of the Islamist group has often been cited as a grievance against Qatar’s rulers, who are accused of using the station as an arm of their activist foreign policy.

Also on Tuesday, Ghassan Hitto, the prime minister of the main Syrian exile opposition group — who was seen as favorable to Qatar — resigned. Although the reasons for his resignation were not clear, it was generally viewed as a concession to Saudi Arabia, which had signaled its discontent with him.

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