Gulf Arab states welcomed the Egyptian army’s ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi on Wednesday following days of unrest in a country once seen by Gulf Arabs as an instrumental ally against rival power Iran.
The rise of Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt following the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011 has unsettled most Gulf Arab states, including the UAE, which feared it would embolden Islamists at home.
Qatar was alone among Gulf Arab states in celebrating the 2011 Arab Spring revolt that toppled Mubarak, a foe of Iran and a longtime ally of the hereditary states that sit on nearly a quarter of the world’s oil reserves.
Saudi state news agency SPA said King Abdullah sent a message of congratulations to the head of the Egyptian Constitutional Court, Adli Mansour, who had been appointed as interim head of state.
“In the name of the people of Saudi Arabia and on my behalf, we congratulate your leadership of Egypt in this critical period of its history. We pray for God to help you bear the responsibility laid upon you to achieve the ambitions of our brotherly people of Egypt,” the message said.
The statement also praised the Egyptian armed forces for leading Egypt out of what it said was a “tunnel that only God knows its dimensions and repercussions”.
The United Arab Emirates also welcomed the change in Egypt, according to state news agency WAM, and praised the Egyptian armed forces.
“His Highness Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan, the Foreign Minister of the UAE, expressed his full confidence that the great people of Egypt are able to cross these difficult moments that Egypt is going through,” WAM said in a statement.
“Sheikh Abdullah said that the great Egyptian army was able to prove again that they are the fence of Egypt and that they are the protector and strong shield that guarantee Egypt will remain a state of institutions and law,” it added.
There was no word from Qatar, the only Gulf Arab country to have publicly sided with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Witnesses said the country deployed extra police forces around the Egyptian Embassy in Doha.
Qatar’s emir stepped down last week in favour of his son, raising speculation the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas may be reconsidering its support for the Muslim Brotherhood.
Influential Muslim cleric Youssef al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian seen close to the Muslim Brotherhood who had lived in Qatar for many years, is reported to be in Egypt. He had denied reports that Qatar’s new emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, had asked him to leave the country.
Qatar has been a major financier of the Islamist groups around the Arab World, including Egypt’s Brotherhood.