Sep 14, 2022 - World

Egypt's Sisi in Qatar for first visit since 2017 Gulf rift

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi meets with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani in Doha, Qatar on September 13, 2022.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi meets with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in Doha, Qatar, on Sept. 13. Photo: Amiri Diwan of the State of Qatar / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi arrived in Doha on Wednesday for a two-day visit to Qatar — the first by Sisi since he took office in 2013.

Why it matters: The visit comes as countries in the region continue to seek to decrease tensions after the end of the 2017 Gulf rift that saw Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain impose a land, sea and air blockade on Qatar.

Flashback: Qatar was one of the main backers of the 2011 Egyptian revolution and later of the Muslim Brotherhood government led by Mohamed Morsi.

  • After the military coup in Egypt that ousted Morsi and led to the election of Sisi, relations with Qatar were strained.

The warming of relations between Egypt and Qatar started in January 2021 after the signing of a reconciliation agreement between Qatar, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states brokered by Jared Kushner, then-senior adviser to former President Trump.

  • Egypt joined the Gulf states in removing the boycott from Qatar, and discussions between Cairo and Doha started on a separate set of understandings.
  • The Egyptian government still wants Qatar to stop its support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and tone down criticism of Egypt by Doha-based Al Jazeera.
  • Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani visited Cairo last June.

State of play: One of the goals of Sisi’s visit to Doha is to encourage new financial investments from Qatar to help the fragile Egyptian economy, which has been hit particularly hard by the war in Ukraine.

  • Sisi said last week that without the Gulf states, the Egyptian economy would have collapsed. Qatar deposited $3 billion in the Egyptian central bank several months ago.

Between the lines: Egypt and Qatar also have several shared interests in the region. One of them is to maintain calm in Gaza.

  • Egyptian and Qatari officials worked together to establish cease-fires during the May 2021 war in Gaza and the most recent fighting in the enclave last month.

The big picture: It's also the latest sign that several countries across the Middle East are re-engaging with each other after heightened tensions in recent years.

  • This process includes renewed dialogue between Turkey and its Arab rivals in the region, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt, and the start of a normalization process between Turkey and Israel.
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