It’s a little early to predict the exact outcome of the Morsi-military smackdown underway in Egypt. (Update as this goes to press: the Egyptian military says Morsi has been removed.) But one thing is certain: Egyptians are mounting a broad-scale rejection of the Muslim Brotherhood.
On the same day, the emirate of Qatar, hundreds of miles away in the Persian Gulf, may be doing substantially the same thing. Unconfirmed reports in Arabic and French-language media indicate that the new emir of Qatar, who took over from his father last week, has ordered Yusuf al-Qaradawi to leave the country. Qaradawi, spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, is an Egyptian who has made his home – and operated an Islamist institute – in Qatar for years. According to the Algerian news site Reporters.dz (link above; my translation):
After proclaiming himself the mufti of NATO, calling in Al Jazeera for the murder of Qadhafi and of theologians who haven’t rallied to the Free Syrian Army, and singing the praises of foreign interventions, [Qaradawi’s] reputation has suffered a setback.
The Reporters.dz story says Al Jazeera is undergoing a big shakeup in editorial perspective and TV programming as well. In a third major change on Tuesday, the new emir, Sheikh Tamim bin-Hamad al-Thani, replaced the manager of the nation’s sovereign wealth fund. Rather than adopting a cautious profile, as many analysts were expecting, the new manager is likely to mount a very aggressive foreign investment profile for Qatar, including large investments in Western industrial giants.
Taken together, the new emir’s reported moves send a strong signal: Qatar’s path forward does not lie with the Muslim Brotherhood or its ideological conception of the region’s future. Indeed, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been at the forefront of the nominal Sunni Arab thrust for regional influence over the last decade, and what they see today is the Muslim Brotherhood – which hates and opposes the Saudi royals and the Persian Gulf emirs, whom it considers “sell-outs” to the West – trying to gain power in the Sunni nations that were thrown up for grabs in the Arab Spring. The Saudis and Qataris do want to shape the outcome in Syria, but they don’t want the Muslim Brotherhood doing it. The Muslim Brotherhood is a rival – and in Egypt, has been seeking to consolidate national power over the most populous Arab nation on earth.
If phone calls were made from foreign capitals to the Egyptian military in the last 48 hours, it would not be at all surprising if at least one of them came from Doha. The timing of the new emir’s reported order to Qaradawi (again, it is so far unconfirmed) would not be a coincidence. Mohammed Morsi is a senior member of Qaradawi’s inner circle. The power grab he mounted in Egypt constitutes writing on the wall for other nations that harbor the Muslim Brotherhood.