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Islamic world split over Egypt

August 19, 2013, 11:20 UTC+3

If the regime of Mohamed Morsi existed largely with Qatari money, then the military who replaced him adopted the funding of Saudis and their allies in the Persian Gulf

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The conflict in Egypt between the army and Islamists has split the Muslim world into two warring factions, the Kommersant daily writes. Saudi Arabia and its partners in the Gulf have not only supported the military that ousted President Mohammed Morsi, but also granted them an emergency aid worth 12 billion US dollars. Qatar and Turkey that were regarded as close allies of Mohamed Morsi are in the other camp. They called his overthrow a coup d’état and accused the army of shooting of peaceful demonstrators. The leaders of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan have expressed about the same view: the ousting of Mohammed Morsi for them was “a crime against Islam.”

On the face of it, it may seem paradoxical that the Saudi Wahhabis have sided with the Egyptian military who are supporters of secularism: Islamist Mohamed Morsi is ideologically much closer to them. But geopolitical considerations have outweighed the religious: the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood was too obviously focused on Qatar - Saudi Arabia’s strategic competitor that is disputing its leadership in the Arab world, the newspaper notes.

If the regime of Mohamed Morsi existed largely with Qatari money, then the military who replaced him adopted the funding of Saudis and their allies in the Persian Gulf. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) provided to new Egyptian authorities a total of 12 billion US dollars. Qatar, on the contrary, is still regarding Mohamed Morsi as the legitimate head of Egypt, and Qatari television channel Al Jazeera covers the events in the country with unconcealed favor for Muslim Brotherhood.

The position of Islamist Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is equally unambiguous. Ankara and Cairo have actually entered in a diplomatic war: they have exchanged unprecedentedly harsh statements, recalled their ambassadors and cancelled joint naval maneuvers, scheduled for October.

On the Egyptian issue Turkey and Qatar have unexpectedly got an ally represented by the Afghan Taliban movement. In a special statement on behalf of the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” the Taliban demanded the return of the “legitimate popularly elected” President Morsi and accused the military of the use of force against “peaceful protesters.” Al-Qaeda, the fighters of which three weeks ago joined the protesters in Cairo, promising to share with them their combat experience, has repeatedly declared its full support to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.

For the leader of Al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the fight against the new Egyptian authorities has become to some extent a family affair. Last weekend, his younger brother Muhammad al-Zawahiri, who heads the Egyptian Islamic Jihad group, was arrested. During the rule of Hosni Mubarak, the younger al-Zawahiri brother spent 14 years in prison on charges of involvement in the assassination of President Anwar Sadat in 1981. And after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, he appeared at the walls of the French Embassy in Cairo where he organized a protest rally against the anti-terrorist operation in Mali conducted by Paris.

Against this background, the demands of European (including French) politicians to release the arrested Islamists sound very strange, believes the Kommersant daily. On Monday, the EU foreign ministers are to gather for an emergency meeting on the situation in Egypt. It will become clear on its results how determined the Europeans are and what action they are going to take against the military, which are trampling on the rights of al-Zawahiri and other “representatives of Egyptian civil society.”

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