Qatar has recalled its ambassador to Egypt “for consultation” after a row over Cairo’s air strikes on targets of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Libya, Qatari state media said.
A foreign ministry official on Thursday said Doha was recalling its envoy over a statement made by Egypt’s delegate to the Arab League, Tariq Adel, according to Qatar News Agency.
Adel accused Qatar of supporting terrorism, according to Egyptian media, after Doha’s representative expressed reservations over a clause in a communique welcoming Cairo’s air strikes on ISIL targets.
The communique was released at the end of an ambassador-level Arab League meeting in Cairo on Wednesday.
Egypt said its F-16s bombed ISIL targets in the eastern city of Derna on Tuesday, after the armed group in Libya released a gruesome video showing the beheadings of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians who were in the North African country to seek work when they were captured.
Sources told Al Jazeera on Monday that at least seven people were killed in the air strikes that started after Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi vowed to “punish” those responsible for the beheadings.
Qatar’s foreign ministry said Doha had expressed reservations over the raids, stressing the need for “consultations before any unilateral military action against another member state”.
It denounced the “tense” statement by Egypt’s representative to the Arab League, saying it “confuses the need to combat terrorism [with] … the brutal killing and burning of civilians”.
The reservations “reveal Qatar’s position in supporting terrorism,” Egyptian state-run news agency MENA quoted Adel as saying.
There was no immediate response from Egypt.
Gulf nations’ support
Other Gulf Arab states threw their support behind Qatar in the row on Thursday.
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 were “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 row comes against a backdrop of difficult relations between Qatar and Egypt. Ties reached a low point when Mohamed Morsi was toppled by the army in July 2013.
Qatar has repeatedly denounced Morsi’s removal and still provides shelter for many leaders of his Muslim Brotherhood.
However, in December there was an apparent thaw in relations after Qatar gave its full support to President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the army chief who overthrew Morsi and was then elected to office.