World Politics Review quotes Brent Scowcroft Center Resident Senior Fellow for Middle East Security Bilal Y. Saab on what effect Qatar’s expulsion of Muslim Brotherhood leaders may have for relationships in the region:
Whether the moves are just a gesture by Qatar, or if they represent a more significant change in a regional rivalry between opponents and backers of Islamist parties, played out most of all in Egypt and Libya, remains to be seen. While the Guardian called the expulsion of Brotherhood members a reflection of “shifting political alignments in a deeply divided Middle East,” it was hardly a sign of broader Qatari rapprochement with its Gulf neighbors, particularly Saudi Arabia.
“I think it’s premature to call it reconciliation,” says Bilal Y. Saab, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. “It’s fair to talk about progress, but reconciliation is too strong of a word. This rift goes beyond Doha’s support for the Brotherhood. This is about status affirmation and good old regional rivalry.”
Saab, for his part, doesn’t see Qatar remaking its regional plans. “I don’t expect Qatar to make a radical shift in its foreign policy. Its adjustments will be gradual,” he says. As for reining in support for Islamists given renewed attention on funders and backers of jihadi groups in Syria and joining the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, “Doha will continue to make a distinction between the Brotherhood and more extremist and militant actors, such as ISIS.”