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Egypt & Qatar: a quick background 3, December 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Egypt, Qatar.
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One of thegulfblog’s esteemed readers and frequent commentors asked for a quick background on Qatar and Egypt. So voilà. If anyone else wants any brief background pieces, in case I gloss over things too quickly, please just drop me a line: if I know enough, I’ll give it a go! Thanks:

Nasser in the 50s and 60s made Egypt the most important and leading nation in the Arab world. However, it has been downhill since they were wholly mullered by Israel in 1967 (yanni: beaten very badly). Though nominal pride was restored in 1973, Sadat’s visit to the Knesset in 1977 wholly finished off Egypt as a regional power.

Mubarak and indeed ‘all’ Egyptians long for the time of Nasser; when it mattered what Egypt said and did, when it was the leader. While in recent times they – by virtue of their history and their population size – still try to throw their weight around as if they were preeminent, they are not and what is worse is that they know they are not (and they know that others know that they know that they are not – if you see what I mean);)

So, when little – if not microscopic – Qatar comes along in the late 1990s and hosts a TV channel that repeatedly slams Egypt, they are less than amused. At a profound level, Qatar’s power (growing ever since; at its apogee now) really annoys Egypt as they are in many ways more powerful than ‘mighty’ Egypt. (Why did Al Jazeera repeatedly slam Egypt? Cause it was easy, fun and, most importantly, great, salacious TV).

Egypt’s anger has erupted frequently over Al Jazeera. One of the worst breaks happened in Jan/Feb 2009 when Qatar held parallel peace conferences after Israel’s Cast Lead operation. This was seen by Egypt and other ‘traditional powers’ (Saudi) as this little cheeky state once more trying to usurp the natural order: they didn’t get to call conferences!

(Incidentally, Egypt views Al Jazeera as little more than the publicity department of the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs: which is essentially wrong.)

A couple of interesting snippets emerged from the Wikileaks cables. The Emir or HBJ (I can’t remember) said that he believes that Egypt is purposefully not seeking as fast a solution to the Palestinian question as they want to prolong their time ‘in the spotlight’. He also said that he would close Al Jazeera down for a year if Egypt facilitated peace in Palestine!

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Comments»

1. Paul - 3, December 2010

Thanks David.

2. Zartab - 4, December 2010
3. xoussef - 13, December 2010

If possible, something of a background on GCC Yemen relations would be great.

Yemen is projected to triple its population to 60 million by 2050, that is excluding famine, draught and conflicts. Yemen is nearly half Sunni half Shia, that could go either way: stable equilibrium or utter disaster. Yemen’s oil, not much to begin with, is dwindling and there are no new discoveries of late. Arms, Qat, difficult mountainous terrain, rebellions, Al-Qaeda, Somali pirates and Bab-el-Mandeb shipping route… Yemen seems to be pretty much fucked up already today and an impending avalanche of disasters however you flip it. So what does SA, Oman and other GCC countries do to prevent this?


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