Qatar defended its independent foreign policy Monday after Saudi Arabia and two other Gulf countries recalled their envoys from Doha accusing it of meddling in their internal affairs.
“Our policy is based on openness towards all, and we do not want to exclude anyone,” Foreign Minister Khalid al-Attiya said during a visit to Paris, in remarks aired by Doha-based Al-Jazeera television.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain recalled their ambassadors last week in a move widely seen as signalling their anger at Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood of deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi.
Saudi Arabia and other conservative Gulf countries welcomed the military’s overthrow of Morsi last July and pledged billions of dollars in aid while Qatar, which had strongly supported him, has seen its influence in Cairo evaporate.
Doha said it “regretted” the decision to recall the envoys, which it said was based on differences concerning regional issues.
Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchies have long been hostile towards Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates across the region, fearing that its brand of grass-roots activism and political Islam could undermine their authority.
The Brotherhood is widely banned in the Gulf, and the UAE has sentenced scores of alleged members to jail, while Qatar has served as a refuge for Brotherhood sympathisers from other countries.
Attiya said Qatar “provides a forum for all those who do not belong to any bloc to come and exchange their views,” but said this does not mean that Doha agrees with them.