The United Arab Emirates backed Saudi Arabia’s decision to label the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group supported by Qatar, a terrorist organization amid diplomatic discord between the three countries.
Denial of “any form of financial or moral support” to the group is a main aim of the change, the U.A.E. Foreign Ministry said yesterday in a statement. Saudi Arabia unveiled the decision on March 7, two days after the kingdom, the U.A.E. and Bahrain withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar, which they accused of undermining the Gulf Cooperation Council’s security.
Qatar was the only member of the six-nation GCC to support the Brotherhood in Egypt during the one-year rule of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, who was toppled by the military in July. Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. are “penalizing” the Qataris for backing the organization, said Theodore Karasik, director of research at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis in Dubai.
“It appears that they are attempting to create a new security group that is exclusive of those states that provide support to the Muslim Brotherhood within the Gulf region,” Karasik said in a telephone interview.
The rift threatens to undermine the integrity of the GCC, whose members supply about 20 percent of the world’s oil. Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E. and Qatar belong to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries as well as the GCC. Qatar, which hosts television broadcaster Al Jazeera, also is the world’s biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas.
Qatar, where Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani took over as emir from his father last June, is home to Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Egyptian-born cleric widely viewed as the Brotherhood’s spiritual leader. He has close ties with Qatari royals and frequently appears on Al Jazeera broadcasts. In Egypt, Al Jazeera journalists are on trial on terrorism-related charges.
Saudi Arabia also banned groups including al-Qaeda cells in the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen and Iraq as well as the al-Nusra front in Syria, Hezbollah’s Saudi branch and Yemen’s Houthi Shiite rebel group, according to the statement.
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