BEIRUT: Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamid al-Thani congratulated Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi on the advent of Ramadan Sunday, according to Egyptian media.
It was the first telephone conversation between the two leaders since Sisi’s inauguration on June 8. Sheikh Tamim, at that time, sent Sisi a letter of congratulations, which the latter responded to with a thank you message.
Relations between the two countries have been strained since the army – then headed by Sisi – ousted Egypt’s first elected president, Mohammad Morsi, in 2013.
Qatar has been supportive to the Muslim Brotherhood, to which Morsi belongs, and in a Gulf divide, has come up against Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, who have backed Sisi both politically and financially.
This divide was most recently apparent in the sentencing of three Al-Jazeera journalists, convicted of spreading false news, in a case Western governments and human rights groups have decried as unjust. The channel is based in Doha and is viewed in Cairo as sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood. Al-Jazeera has denied such allegations.
Amnesty said the trial was a “vindictive farce,” and part of the “ongoing row” between Egypt and Qatar.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 01, 2014, on page 10.