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Qatar regrets Gulf nations withdrawing envoys
Thursday March 6, 2014 4:03 PM, IANS

Qatar has expressed regret and surprise at the decision of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to withdraw their ambassadors from its soil but said it would not make any retaliatory move.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Qatar's state cabinet said it would not retaliate by pulling out its envoys in the three countries because it was "keen on brotherly ties between people of Qatar and other GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) states", The Peninsula reported Thursday.

In an unprecedented move, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE Wednesday announced they were withdrawing their ambassadors from Qatar which, they said, was not committed to the principles of the GCC.

In a joint statement, the three GCC member states said the decision was to "protect the security and stability" in their countries.

The GCC comprises Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

They said Qatar has not yet implemented the Gulf Security Agreement signed in November last year, which aims to enhance security cooperation to deal with new threats faced by the regional countries.

In its statement, the Qatar cabinet said: "The move taken by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain have nothing to do with their national interests nor their security and stability, but there is a difference of opinion and position on a number of issues outside the Gulf Cooperation Council."

It added that Qatar was and would remain committed to GCC values, and "this is what prevents Qatar from taking a similar procedure of recalling its ambassadors".

The statement reiterated Qatar's "continued commitment to the principles on which GCC was based and the implementation of its obligations in line with GCC states' agreements on preserving and maintaining their security and stability".

At a meeting Tuesday, GCC foreign ministers tried to convince Qatar of the importance of implementing the security agreement, but the country showed no commitment.

The three GCC countries said they had tried to tell Qatar not to interfere in the internal affairs of any member state, as they had endorsed in the agreement. But Qatar failed to comply.

They also asked Qatar not to support any party aiming to threaten security and stability of any GCC member, pointing to Qatar's perceived support to the Muslim Brotherhood movement that is banned in most Gulf states.

According to a Xinhua report, Abu Dhabi earlier summoned the Qatari ambassador to the UAE to protest statements made by the Doha-based religious cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

In a sermon during Friday prayers, Qaradawi criticised the UAE for its stance against the Muslim Brotherhood, the former ruling party in Egypt. The party's former leader Mohamed Morsi was ousted as the country's first democratically elected president by the military in July last year.

Earlier in January, the religious cleric said the UAE "would not support an Islamist government", insinuating that the UAE supported a military removal of Egypt's former president.

Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have also supported the Egyptian military. They, together with the UAE and Kuwait, have provided more than $12 billion in financial aid to Cairo.

Qaradawi is head of the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated International Federation of Muslim Scholars. Many of its members argue that the military's ousting of Morsi is a "coup".

The Muslim Brotherhood as a movement and political party is banned in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

Last year, the UAE arrested dozens of foreign and local supporters of the group, and sentenced some to life-long prison terms for planning "terror acts" to destabilise the Gulf state.

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