An Egyptian official said on Sunday that Cairo will hunt down exiled Muslim Brotherhood leaders and seek their arrest, according to The Associated Press (AP).
The declaration came a day after Qatar ordered leaders of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and allied clerics to leave country.
The tiny Gulf nation’s expulsion of the Brotherhood, branded a terrorist organization by Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, signals it is moving to mend a diplomatic rift triggered by its support of the group. Analysts described the move as a political victory for Egypt’s current leadership.
Egypt’s Minister of Interior Mohammed Ibrahim said that Qatari authorities gave Brotherhood leaders one month to leave the country, and reporters for the Doha-based Al-Jazeera Egypt channel two months to leave.
A Brotherhood member in Qatar, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of concerns for his safety, said the Qataris conveyed to them that they were under constant pressure led by Egypt to serve Egyptian arrest warrants for the Islamists. He said he will travel to Malaysia while other members will be travelling to Britain or Turkey, according to AP.
Egyptian security and military officials say Qatar agreed to “gradually” expel the group’s members and allies. They said that up to 120 people could leave as part of the agreement, including some facing charges of inciting violence in Egypt.
The presence of Muslim Brotherhood officials in Qatar had severely strained Doha’s relations with Egypt as well as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, all of which view the more than 85-year-old Islamist movement as a threat.
The governments of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar in June, in protest over Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood.
Qatar also backs Hamas, the offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood.