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Wikileaks: Egypt determined to thwart Qatar initiatives including Darfur

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June 14, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – The Egyptian government under the deposed president Hosni Mubarak were determined to thwart all political initiatives made by the Arab Gulf state of Qatar including peace talks aimed at resolving the conflict in Sudan’s western region of Darfur, according to U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.

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Egypt’s former foreign minister Ahmed Aboul-Gheit (AFP)

The document dated January 26, 2010 quoted the Egyptian Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) in Doha Adham Naguib as telling the Political-Economic Chief at the US embassy that Egypt is determined to thwart "every single initiative" Qatar proposes during its current term as president of the Arab League.

This would also include items that are in Egypt’s interests, Naguib told U.S. officials.

It was well known to observers that Cairo was unhappy about Qatar’s role in mediating between the warring parties in Darfur.

In 2009 the then Egyptian foreign minister Ahmed Aboul-Gheit said that talks hosted by “other parties”, in reference to Qatar, have been unsuccessful due to the lack of comprehension with the “dynamics” of situation in Sudan and complex tribal relations.

According to the cable, Naguib was summoned by Aboul-Gheit to his office and found the top Egyptian diplomat exercising on his treadmill.

Without stopping his exercise session, Aboul-Gheit raised his voice at Naguib and referred to the Qataris, "their mothers and their fathers, and their mothers’ mothers and fathers’ fathers" in very vulgar terms. He declared to Naguib that for the sake of Egypt’s honor its government would take no action to right the relationship with Qatar.

Aboul-Gheit said that Cairo would "thwart every single Qatari initiative that Doha tries to put forward [during its current term] as president of the Arab League" adding that Mubarak himself is adamant on taking that approach.

Naguib told U.S. officials that Qatar’s involvement in Sudan and Palestine was frequently cited to him in Cairo as examples of how Qatar aims "to bring Egypt to its knees".

"Frankly, Egypt is angered by Qatar’s mediation purely because it involves a country in Egypt’s back yard. There is nothing Qatar has done in Darfur that hurts Egypt or its interests" Naguib was quoted as saying.

Naguib said he had pointed out to Aboul-Gheit and other officials in Cairo that "our strategic partner the U.S. supports Qatar’s efforts in Darfur."

Last March, the Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir accused Aboul-Gheit and the former foreign minister of Libya Moussa Koussa of working to undermine the Darfur peace talks in Qatar.

"We endured a lot of harm [from both countries]" Bashir said without offering details.

Aboul-Gheit lost his position following the toppling of Mubarak last February. Koussa on the other hand defected in March and sought political asylum in Britain as the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi engaged in battles with armed opposition who are working to oust him.

(ST)

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