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Qatar beats Egypt to lead negotiations with Iran

Qatar and Saudi flags
Qatar and Saudi flags, 15 April 2016

The Gulf reconciliation between Qatar and the blockading Gulf countries (Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and Bahrain) was a positive step for the Gulf states. It will help them to emerge from the ordeal that they created, by increasing their hostility towards Iran and exaggerating their dependence on the US and the West, to support them against Iran.

The Qatari policy towards rival states in the region was more reasonable. It did not burn bridges between itself and its brothers in the Gulf, nor between itself and Iran, and maintained relations with Turkey and Egypt.

It was not harsh in its disagreement with any of the countries in the region, even with the countries exaggerating in declaring their hostility towards Qatar. It is the mistake of exaggeration, which can be called political and media extremism, and a lack of precaution for changing conditions and circumstances. However, such precaution is a principle of Islam, according to the Quranic verses:

"Good and evil cannot be equal. Respond to evil with what is best, then the one you are in a feud with will be like a close friend. But this cannot be obtained except by those who are patient and who are truly fortunate." (Fussilat, 34-35)

Egyptian foreign policy has shrunk behind a wall of negativity, and has remained far from the developments of events in the region, despite it possessing mechanisms allowing it to solve all the problems of the region, thus gaining leadership, status, and material and moral benefits.

READ: Egypt and Qatar agree to resume diplomatic ties, Cairo says

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani announced on Wednesday, in an interview with Bloomberg TV, that his country is willing to mediate a meeting that would bring together the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries with Iran.

Al-Thani shared that he was "hopeful that this would happen, and we still believe this should happen," noting that it was a desire shared by the GCC countries.

Last week, Mutlaq Al-Qahtani, the special advisor to the Qatari foreign minister, announced his country's willingness to mediate between Iran and Saudi Arabia, and indicated that his country saw no objection if Saudi Arabia requested this mediation.

Qatar was able to solve its diplomatic crisis with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and also with Egypt, which lasted more than three years, as a result of these countries accusing Qatar of supporting terrorist groups and its rapprochement with Iran. Based on this, these countries imposed a sea, land and air blockade on Qatar.

Qatar's ambition does not stop at mediation between Iran and the Gulf states alone, but also extends to mediation between Iran and Egypt. It even goes as far as mediating between Iran and the US, as the Qatari Foreign Minister also noted that they were willing to facilitate dialogue between Iran and US if the two sides ask them to do so. They are willing to achieve this and be present during the dialogue.

It is not unusual for Iran to announce that it has previously confirmed its willingness to negotiate with Washington if it returns to the nuclear agreement, provided that the talks are within the framework of the agreement on the previous rules.

What is strange, however, is for Qatar to mediate between Iran and Egypt, although Iran wants to negotiate with Egypt to restore normal relations between them without any mediation. However, refusal of this is coming from Egypt, on the pretext that the time and circumstances do not currently allow for this.

READ: Rights groups criticise Saudi failure to follow through death penalty annulment for minors

The problem with Egyptian foreign policy, is that it neglected the proactive approach taken by the major countries and countries that want to gain a regional position. It is unclear why their foreign policy fears this concept. What is the philosophy behind its contraction? What does it want to achieve from this policy? Such policy suggests that it is politically weak. However, in reality it is not, but adopting this policy portrays it as such.

While the state is seeking to rebuild Egypt, promoting the slogan "Long Live Egypt", some state institutions do not view this slogan in a positive light, and are not employing mechanisms to achieve it on the ground.

Unfortunately, these institutions bear their weight in the state, such as foreign affairs, education, higher education and scientific research.

Translated from Thenewkhalij, 20 January 2021

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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AfricaArticleEgyptIranMiddle EastOpinionQatar
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