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Gulf nations unite to combat Brotherhood

| Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013, 8:57 p.m.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — More than six months ago, Dr. Mahmoud al-Jaidah was detained as he traveled through Dubai en route home to Qatar. He has been held ever since.

UAE authorities have given no public statements on the case. The family of the 52-year-old doctor has no doubt why he is detained: He has been caught up in the escalating pressures across the Western-backed Persian Gulf states against the Muslim Brotherhood and its perceived Islamist allies.

Al-Jaidah's family claims he has no active role with the Brotherhood.

The crackdowns in the gulf began more than a year before the Muslim Brotherhood's political collapse in Egypt this July. They now take on wider regional implications, meshing with the campaign of arrests by Cairo's new military-protected leadership against the Brotherhood.

The Egyptian military's ouster of President Mohamed Morsy further emboldened the UAE and other gulf states to step up arrests of suspected Brotherhood supporters, whom they view as a threat to the gulf's tightly run fraternity of monarchs, sheiks and emirs.

In turn, several gulf countries have stepped up as critical sources of cash for Egypt's new military-backed leadership. The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have promised Egypt $12 billion in aid.

“The gulf states and Egypt are now bonded together in the belief of the Muslim Brotherhood as their common enemy,” said Christopher Davidson, an expert in Persian Gulf affairs at Britain's Durham University.

Gulf rulers long have considered the Brotherhood a danger.

In Saudi Arabia, the Brotherhood's version of political Islam is perceived as a challenge to the country's monarchy, which is backed by the strict Wahhabi interpretation of Islam.

Gulf officials have become fearful of anything that could serve as potential footholds for the Brotherhood. In rhetoric at least, the group has begun to replace Iran as the most worrisome threat. The exception is Qatar, which has cultivated the Brotherhood regionwide and strongly backed Morsy.

In July, Dubai's police chief, Lt. Gen. Dahi Khalfan Tamim, warned of an “international plot” by the Brotherhood to undermine gulf leaders and expropriate the region's huge riches. Last week, he posted a Twitter message directed at the Brotherhood and its backers: “You must know that everyone from the ocean to the Gulf hates you.”

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