Egypt has rejected an offer by Qatar to mediate between Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and supporters of the currently imprisoned and ousted president Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The rejection comes days after Egypt flamboyantly announced its ‘gift to the world’ during the opening of the new Suez Canal in which Sisi and his supporters attempted to demonstrate a show of force and popular support to the world at a time of increasing criticism of his brutal crackdown on the Brotherhood and other opposition.
Egypt has accused, and continues to accuse, Qatar of ‘meddling’ in internal affairs and supporting ‘terrorism’ in Egypt, a reference to the Gulf nation’s continued support for the Muslim Brotherhood and continued criticism of the Egyptian government on its most popular media outlet Aljazeera.
Egypt has designated the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation and local media outlets have regularly poured scorn on the group as the government seeks to present to the world that it had, and has, the backing of the Egyptian people to ‘save’ them from the ‘terrorist’ group. The judiciary has already issued hundreds of death sentences, including on the ousted president Mohamed Morsy, in trials described by human rights organisations as ‘farcical’.
Dr Mohamed Soudan, Head of Strategic and Foreign Relations of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party told the International Interest that ‘Sisi has a specific aim to destroy the Brotherhood entirely and is deluded in his path and thinking. Nasser (former Egyptian president) tried to destroy the Brotherhood before him and instead the Brotherhood grew and spread across the world. Sisi will not abandon his agenda…for Qatar or any other party’.
Egypt continues to suffer from a severe economic crisis and despite seeking to maintain its traditional role as a mediator on regional issues (most recently by reportedly hosting representatives from the US, the UAE, and Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh), the country appears to be losing its status as a leading power in the region as well. The ongoing political situation between the government and the Brotherhood has brought increased instability to a country still suffering from the debilitating effects of the Arab Spring in 2011 which brought down the Mubarak regime. Moreover, vast investment projects promised by the government have yet to come to fruition with a number of investors citing uneasiness with the ongoing instability.
Nevertheless, the brutal crackdown on dissent has meant that it remains difficult to gauge Sisi’s actual support amongst the Egyptian people.