RECOMMENDED READING: “Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood Finds Havens Abroad”


The Washington Post has published an article titled “Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood Finds Havens Abroad” that looks at Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leaders who fled the crackdown and found refuge in Qatar. The report begins:

3543827_370November 6 DOHA, Qatar  Very few of the leaders of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood escaped the recent military-led crackdown on their movement. Some of those who did flew out of Cairo after paying thousands of dollars in bribes to airport security officials, while others took more convoluted routes, boarding planes in distant airports en route to friendlier nations.

One of those nations is Qatar, the tiny, oil-rich Persian Gulf state that helped bankroll rebels and Islamist democracy advocates throughout the Arab Spring and is now quietly absorbing the exiles that one country’s stumbling experiment in democracy has generated.

Cast out by — or, perhaps, saved from— the harshest political crackdown in recent Egyptian history, a handful of Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist leaders found refuge here in the Qatari capital, while others traveled to Istanbul, London and Geneva.

The exiles’ community is small, disorganized and ideologically diverse, ranging from relatively moderate Islamist politicians to hard-line Salafists — groups that less than two years ago competed against each other in Egypt’s parliamentary and presidential elections.

Now, as they push back against the July coup that toppled their country’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, they are on the same team.

At the same time, an exile leadership is starting to take shape here among the shimmering high-rises of Doha. Several of the exiles live temporarily in hotel suites paid for by Qatar’s state-run Arabic satellite network Al Jazeera — and it is in those suites and hotel lobbies that the future of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and, more broadly, the strategy and ideology of political Islam in the country may well be charted.

‘We are not the kind to escape. We do not prefer exile. We have a task: to communicate the crisis and deliver the message to the world,’ Ehab Shiha, chairman of the Egyptian Salafist al-Asala party, said as he sat in a hotel lobby in Doha.

The exiles don’t have a command structure, Shiha said. But, he added, ‘there is some sort of coordination.’

The exiles have regular meetings. They call counterparts in Geneva and London. Shiha said the group even speaks regularly with Ayman Nour, a longtime liberal who was jailed under now-ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak and is in Beirut.

Read the rest here.

Our predecessor publication reported in August 2012 on the plans for an Egypt-Qatar summit where then Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was to receive the Emir of Qatar. AP had reported  earlier that Qatar was granting Egypt a $2 billion loan to help the country’s troubled economy. A post from March 2013 had reported that the Deputy Chairman of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood was visiting Qatar for meetings with Qatari officials.

Before the overthrow of President Morsi, a series of media articles had discussed the growing importance of the Muslim Brotherhood to Qatari foreign policy:

  • Bloomburg News posted an article titled “Rising Islamist Movement Has Small But Wealthy Patron” that looks at tensions resulting in the Gulf as a result of Qatari funding of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
  • A Gulf newspaper posted an article by academic Dr. Ahmad Jamil Azem titled “Qatar’s Ties with the Muslim Brotherhood Affect Entire Region.”
  • The Atlantic Council Web site posted an article titled “Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood: Between a Present with Qatar and a Future with Libya” that discusses the future of Qatari-Egyptian relations in light of the failure of the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood to prevail in recent elections.
  • The Voice of America posted an article that discusses the role of the Muslim Brotherhood in driving Qatari foreign policy.
  • Reuters  posted an article titled “Rising power Qatar stirs unease among some Mideast neighbors” that looks at the discomfort engendered in the region partly as a result of Qatar’s support of the Muslim Brotherhood.

However, in March 2013, Qatar denied the myriad reports that it was supporting the Muslim Brotherhood.

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