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September 14, 2014

Prominent Muslim Brotherhood figures leaving Qatar

by Mahmoud Mourad [Reuters] - Qatar has asked seven senior figures from Egypt’s outlawed Muslim Brotherhood to leave the country, the movement said on Saturday, following months of pressure on the Gulf Arab state from its neighbors to stop backing the Islamists.

Ibrahim Munir, a senior Brotherhood official based in London, told Reuters the departures did not mean a rupture in ties between Qatar and the Brotherhood.

“The Qatari authorities told the Brotherhood they are facing pressure and circumstances would not allow the presence of all these Brotherhood figures in Doha,” he said by telephone, without elaborating.
Qatari officials were not immediately available for comment.

Qatar and Turkey were the only regional countries to back the Brotherhood after Egypt’s army toppled Islamist President Mohamed Mursi last year following mass protests against his rule.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and other Gulf Arab states, in contrast, have showered Egypt’s new rulers with billions of dollars. They see the Muslim Brotherhood as an existential threat to the monarchies.

Tensions over Qatar’s support for the Brotherhood led Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE to withdraw their ambassadors from Doha in March.

“To lift the embarrassment for the state of Qatar, which we found hospitable, some of the symbols of the Muslim Brotherhood who have been asked to move their residency outside the state have agreed,” senior Brotherhood figure Amr Darrag said on his Facebook page.

Munir said Darrag was one of the Brotherhood members leaving Qatar, though Darrag did not specifically say so in his message.

Ties between Qatar and Egypt were badly damaged after Mursi’s fall. Doha has welcomed a number of senior Brotherhood figures since Egyptian security forces launched a crackdown on the movement, killing hundreds in the streets and arresting thousands of others.

Egypt has declared the Brotherhood a terrorist movement. The Brotherhood says it is a peaceful group.

The spokesman for Egypt’s foreign ministry said he had “no idea” if Qatar had expelled Brotherhood leaders, and declined to comment further until Cairo had examined the issue.

Saudi Arabia to reopen embassy in Baghdad

by Ghazanfar Ali Khan [Arab News] - Saudi Arabia has announced its plans to reopen its embassy in Iraq once the situation improves in the country.

The announcement was made by Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal after he held wide-ranging talks with his Iraqi counterpart, Ibrahim Al-Jaafari, in Jeddah, confirmed Osama Nugali, Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman, on Saturday.

“Prince Saud has assured Al-Jaafari that the Saudi Embassy would be reopened in Baghdad,” said a statement that was also released by the Iraqi Foreign Ministry office.

The Saudi side has not given any time frame for the embassy’s opening. Riyadh now needs to resolve “technical, administrative and security” issues before it can re-establish the mission and assign an ambassador.

Jaafari described this decision as “important and necessary.”

“A country caught in its own cross-fire, Iraq remains an important nation and maintaining embassies around the world, even under difficult conditions, is a central pillar of the Kingdom’s diplomatic policy,” said an Arab diplomatic source, while welcoming the Saudi move.

He said: “we are serious in opening a new page of relations based on common interest and jointly confronting common dangers, including terror threats.”

The Kingdom’s decision demonstrates the importance attributed by the Saudi government to its ties with Iraq and its resolve to ensure peace and security in the region.

Riyadh will take the reopening as an opportunity to enhance friendly cooperation with Iraq in various fields, the diplomat added.

The move is also significant keeping in view the geographical proximity of Iraq and the huge border it shares with Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom is currently building a 900 km sophisticated fence along its northern border with the war-torn country.

Iraq also ranks second worldwide after Saudi Arabia for proven oil reserves, with estimates exceeding 140 billion barrels today.

The Kingdom, which never posted its envoy in Baghdad after 1990, named a non-resident ambassador, Fahd Abdulmohsen Al-Zaid (the then Saudi ambassador in Jordan), for the first time in 2012. In 2009, Baghdad named its first post Gulf-war ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

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