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Erdogan: Exiled Muslim Brotherhood leaders welcome in Turkey

After last July's coup, many leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood fled Egypt to Qatar where they have now been pressured to leave
Muslim Brotherhood supreme guide Mohamed Badie stands in the defendants cage with fellow Muslim Brotherhood members in an Egyptian court this month (AFP)

Turkey would welcome exiled leaders of Egypt's outlawed Muslim Brotherhood who have come under pressure to leave Qatar, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said.

A Brotherhood official said on Saturday that several members of the group were relocating after Qatar came under enormous pressure from other Gulf Arab states to cut support for the Islamist group.

"If they make any request to come to Turkey, we will review their request," Erdogan was quoted as telling reporters on his plane back from an official trip to Qatar late on Monday.

"If there are any reasons that would prevent them from coming to Turkey, they would be assessed. And if there aren't any obstacles, they would be granted the ease that is granted to everyone," he said.

Turkey and Qatar have been some of the staunchest supporters of the Brotherhood, the movement of Egypt's former president Mohammed Morsi who was ousted by the army last July following mass protests against his turbulent year-long rule.

After the ouster of Egypt's Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, Cairo labelled the Brotherhood a "terrorist organisation" and some of the group's leaders fled to Qatar.

But other leading Gulf states have grown increasingly concerned about the Brotherhood after its prominent role in the Arab Spring, viewing the movement as a threat to their monarchic rule.

Saudi Arabia and the Emirates withdrew their ambassadors, partly over Qatari support for the group, along with Bahrain, with all three decrying Qatari "interference" in their internal affairs.

Now, "Qatar has no option but to reduce - not stop - its relations with the Muslim Brotherhood," after banking on the group gaining the upper hand in countries hit by Arab Spring revolts in 2011, said Mustafa Alani from the Geneva-based Gulf Research Centre.

Egypt's military-installed authorities designated the Brotherhood a "terrorist organisation" last December.

Many of the group's members and supporters are among approximately 16,000 people who have been arrested as part of a crackdown following last July's coup.

The group's exiled leaders set up headquarters in several countries including Turkey, to where the leadership in Doha may now relocate.

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