Qatar caves to regional pressure, boots leading MB members
Qatar's Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani - REUTERS/Stephanie McGehee

CAIRO: Qatar requested Saturday seven Muslim Brotherhood leaders leave their country, according to Amr Darrag, former Minister of Planning and Cooperation and a leading member of the MB’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and the National Alliance Supporting Legitimacy (NASL).

“In order to avoid causing any embarrassment for the state of Qatar, which we found to be a very welcoming and supportive host, some symbols of the Muslim Brotherhood and its political wing—the Freedom and Justice Party—were asked by authorities to move their residences outside the state of Qatar. We have now honored that request,” Darrag posted on his Facebook account.

In addition to Darrag, the six other MB members are FJP spokesperson Hamza Zouba, former MP Ashraf Badr el-Din, FJP Secretary-General Mahmoud Hussein, Essam Talima, Islamic preacher Wagdy Ghoneim and former Minister of Endowment Gamal Abdel Sattar.

As for where those MB leaders are headed, options include South Africa, Latin American countries, Southern Asia, and frequent MB shelters London and Turkey, dissident MB member Khaled Zaafarani told CBC Extra Sunday.

Despite claims MB leaders were prepared for Qatar’s decision, Zaafarani said it disrupts the organization’s order and could be a source of internal conflict.

New crackdown on MB abroad

Zaafarani described the decision as a “new crackdown on the organization.” “It is a big step for Qatar to expel them. Qatar’s support was a basis of hope for the Muslim Brotherhood,” he added.

“Those destinations are an exile to the Muslim Brotherhood members,” he said. “But South Africa and some Latin American countries declared their intentions to welcome the Brotherhood.”

However, Zaafarani also said the MB’s power would be limited in those countries.

Unlike Darrag and Ghoneim, who thanked Qatar for its support, MB figures such as Azza Garraf, Aisha Khairat el-Shater and Ahmed Mogheer expressed their discontent over Qatar’s decision, calling on Muslim Brotherhood members to “stay strong,” Al-Arabiya reported Saturday, quoting some of their tweets.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s Attorney General Hisham Barakat addressed his staff’s International Cooperation Department Saturday to demand the legal pursuit of the seven expelled MB members, and their delivery to Interpol.

The expulsion comes following a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) decision to take action on Qatar’s host role for the MB, especially after its ban in Egypt, which has been a source of tension between Qatar and Egypt, El-Azab El-Tayeb, Al-Ahram’s vice-president told CBC Extra Sunday.

International pressure against the MB is also due to a change of regional policies due to the U.S. campaign in the region to obtain Arab cooperation in the fight against the Islamic State (IS), and international and regional criticism of Qatar’s pro-Islamist stance as promoting militants seeking jihad in Iraq and Syria.

Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Waleed Muallem said in an Aug. 25 press conference that Qatar and Turkey supported militant groups like the Al-Qaida affiliated Nusra Front in Syria.

Thus, Qatar’s move could “mark an easing of a bitter regional quarrel over the Persian Gulf monarchy’s sheltering of fugitive figures from the Islamist movement,” the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

It remains unclear how this move will affect the Qatari state-owned Al Jazeera’s media stance, which has been critical of current Egyptian leadership and biased towards the Muslim Brotherhood. But until Sunday morning, Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr continued to report on “anti-military coup” protests.

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