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Gulf states criticize Egypt over Libya attacks

19 February 2015, 14:25

Riyadh - Gulf Arab states threw their support behind Qatar Thursday in a row with Egypt, which accused Doha of backing "terrorism" during heated discussions about Cairo's air strikes on jihadists in Libya.

Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) secretary general Abdullatif al-Zayani said in a statement he "rejects accusations by Egypt's permanent envoy at the Arab League that Qatar supports terrorism".

Zayani said the accusations are "unfounded, contradict reality, and ignore the sincere efforts by Qatar as well as the Gulf Cooperation Council and Arab states in combatting terrorism and extremism at all levels."

The Egyptian accusation came in response to reservations voiced by Qatar about a clause in an Arab League statement supporting "Egypt's right to legitimately defend itself and measures taken to confront terrorism and air strikes carried out against Daesh in Libya," Cairo's official MENA news agency said.

Daesh is an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.

The reservations "reveal Qatar's position in supporting terrorism," MENA quoted Egypt's envoy at the Arab League, Tariq Adel, as saying.

Qatar has recalled its ambassador to Egypt over the spat.

Egyptian F-16s bombed militant bases in the eastern Libyan city of Derna on Tuesday, after the Islamic State group released a gruesome video showing the beheadings of a group of Egyptian Coptic Christians who had gone to the North African country seeking work.

Egypt's statements "do not help in strengthening Arab solidarity at a time when our countries are facing major challenges threatening their security, stability, and sovereignty," said Zayani.

Ties between Doha and Cairo have been strained by a spat over Qatar's support for former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, who was ousted by the army in July 2013.

GCC members Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait are the main financial backers of the government of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the former army chief, having pledged around $12 billion since he came to power.

The dispute between Cairo and Doha triggered a crisis pitting Qatar against Gulf neighbours Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE last year.

There was an apparent thaw in relations in December after Qatar gave its support to Sisi, who was elected to office after overthrowing Morsi.

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