After a request from the Saudi monarch, Egypt on Wednesday vowed to support a reconciliation agreement between its Gulf patrons and Qatar aimed at easing regional tensions linked to Doha's support for Islamist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood.The tensions, which are also connected to Saudi-Qatari competition for influence among Syrian rebel groups, escalated following last year's overthrow of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi's Brotherhood-backed government. Qatar gave billions of dollars in aid to Morsi's government before it was overthrown by the military amid massive protests against his yearlong rule. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states have since stepped in with billions of dollars in aid for the military-backed government.
The UAE and Saudi Arabia perceive the Brotherhood as a threat because of its political activism. Both countries, as well as Egypt's new leadership, have branded it a "terrorist group." Details of the Gulf agreement, which also involved Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, have not been made public. "I appeal to the people and leadership of Egypt to seek with us the success of this step in the march of Arab solidarity," King Abdullah said in his first public comments since the Sunday accord. His remarks were carried by the Saudi Press Agency. Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi's office immediately responded, saying that Egypt would spare no effort "to support its brothers." It called on regional opinion leaders and journalists to help "heal the rift."
Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain had withdrawn their ambassadors from Qatar in March after Egypt recalled its envoy. Qatar has long been accused of using the Doha-based Al-Jazeera as a mouthpiece for the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups, allegations denied by the news network. An Egyptian court sentenced three Al-Jazeera English journalists to at least seven years in prison and shut down the network's offices in Cairo. Following several rounds of high-level talks and months of pressure, Qatar recently expelled top Brotherhood figures who had been based there. Egypt had wanted some handed over for inciting violence.
Egypt's state news agency says prosecutors have asked for the death sentence for ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and other Muslim Brotherhood leaders on trial on espionage Charges.Prosecutor Emad el-Sharawy said in closing remarks Wednesday that Morsi and his aides leaked state security documents to foreign intelligence agencies, namely Iran, while in office for one year. The military removed Morsi from office in July 2013 following mass protests against him accusing him and the Brotherhood of monopolizing power.
El-Sharawy said the defendants, who include Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie and 34 others, cooperated with militant groups, including Gaza's Hamas, to destabilize Egypt.
Morsi told the court he refused its jurisdiction. He asked to defend himself in upcoming sessions. The case resumes on Nov. 26 for closing defense.