Egypt warns Qatar: We will not remain silent in face of ‘direct’ interference
RIYADH - Egyptian interim Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawi said on Wednesday that Egypt does not want to escalate conflict with the Gulf state of Qatar but will not remain silent if there is a “direct” interference in its domestic affairs.
He denounced, during a visit to Saudi Arabia, what he described as "unacceptable and inappropriate" Qatari statements against Egypt.
“Qatar is an Arab country and differences happen between members of one family. We are keen to preserve our ties, but there are some practices the least of which can be described as unfair and not honest,” Beblawi told reporters before leaving Riyadh.
Egypt's interim premier went on to voice regret for what he called Qatari acts "that don't suit the behaviour of neighbouring countries."
He noted that the differences with Qatar, which hosts dozens of fugitive Muslim Brotherhood members and critics of the current military-backed interim government, are going “out of ordinary.”
Egypt’s foreign ministry on Tuesday summoned Qatar’s charge d’affaires in Cairo to demand the handover of Islamist fugitives in exile in Doha.
Ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty said the diplomat was told Egypt wanted Qatar to extradite critics of Cairo’s army-backed government, including the Egyptian-born cleric who supports the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood.
Abdelatty told journalists that recent comments by controversial cleric Youssef al-Qaradawi, who said Saudi support for the military government was wrong and should be withdrawn, were unacceptable and criticized Doha for its “refusal to hand over wanted Egyptians.”
Qaradawi faces charges alongside ousted Islamist President Mohammad Morsi in connection with a mass jail break during the 2011 uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak.
Once close Qatari-Egyptian ties have soured since Cairo’s army last July ousted Morsi, who was strongly backed by Doha, following mass protests against his one-year rule.
Egypt then launched a crackdown against Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood group and labelled it a terrorist group. Some members of the Brotherhood and other opponents of the government fled to Qatar.
The foreign ministry summoned Qatar’s ambassador last month after Doha criticised Cairo’s crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood.
Egypt accuses Qatar and its Doha-based Al Jazeera television channel of backing the Muslim Brotherhood.