Blunting the Brotherhood’s Spear - Rachel Ehrenfeld

Friday, August 16th, 2013 @ 4:59AM

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From his rented vacation villa in Vineyard Haven, MA, President Obama conceded the obvious, “America cannot determine the future of Egypt,” he said. He went on to declare, “We don’t take sides with any particular party or political figure,” only to contradict himself by announcing the cancellation of U.S.- Egyptian joint military exercises “while civilians are being killed in the streets.”

Latest reports have more than 600 dead in the clashes. But not all were killed by the security forces. Many have been killed by the Brothers (aka “civilians”), who torched government buildings and attacked security forces patrolling the streets.

American officials, pundits, and commentators are going back and forth between supporting the coup-plus-so-called-liberals and supporting the Muslim Brotherhood’s “democratic” election and/or future participation in government.

The Saudis, however, have little doubt regarding the Brother’s political future. 

This is how the Saudi Gazette summed up the situation yesterday: “The bloodshed … effectively ends the open political role of the Brotherhood, which survived for 85 years as an underground movement before emerging from the shadows after the 2011 uprising.”

The Saudi Ambassador to Egypt, Ahmad Qatan, “urged Saudi citizens to stay indoors and keep away from places of protests and clashes. He also instructed Saudi citizens “to call 00201124393333 for help anytime.” What will the Saudis do when the phone rings?

Realpolitik is the order of the day: It is in U.S. interests to keep the Suez Canal open, the Camp David Accords intact, and the Sinai from becoming another bigger and better heartland of jihad against Israel and other Muslim countries in the region, as well as a training grounds for terrorists the world over. With the U.S. abdication of its influence in Egypt, the Saudis have a unique (ironic) opportunity to keep the country from becoming another Islamic theocracy similar to and alllied with Iran.

It is not a secret that Saudi Arabia’s and the Gulf States’ rulers (except Qatar) have a keen interest in defeating the Brotherhood. These states are threatened by the Brotherhood’s calls for an “Islamic uprising,” (overthrowing the current rulers) and the Brothers’ special allegiance to Hamas and Iran. Similar views are held by Egypt’s Salafis.

As the “oil-luck” has it, the Saudis have the funds to invest in this opportunity.

The Kingdom’s export revenues in 2012 amounted to $330.4 billion. Immediate transfer (not promise) of $5-10 billion to the interim government in Cairo, seem to be a thrifty investment. The money should come with two stipulations.

The first would require the government to immediately pass on $400-$800 million for distribution centers throughout the country. Government employees should hand out $200 or $400 (enough to cover one or two months rent of a small apartment, outside Cairo) to each of Egypt’s 20 million registered unemployed and underemployed. They need the money to buy food supplies, pay for utiliies, buy clothes for their childern, travel to work , etc.

The second stipulation would require using the Saudi largesse to repair infrastructure and reopen manufacturing centers, and to build/open schools, healthclinics, hospitals and other projects that create work. The government and the people need a serious money shot-in-the-arm to show what it and they can do, now that Morsi and Broithers are out.

Most Egyptians resented the Brotherhood’s systemic destruction of the economy, which forced many into poverty. There is a reasonable chance that an immediate supply of cash would move millions of the Brotherhood’s supporters from the streets into queues outside the government’s money and jobs distribution centers.

The Brothers, who rely on the masses to clash with the security services and spearhead their return to power, will be left to fight on their own. Surely, many Brothers are likely to continue openly, at least for a while.

But if the masses turn their back on the Brothers, the government efforts to end the violence and suppress the Brotherhood are more likely to succeed. No one expects the Brothers will disappear. Those who survive will go underground and will cause more civic unrest that a strong government should be able to control.  In the meantime, the majority of the Egyptian people who celebrated the ousting of Morsi and his Brothers last July can rebuild, go to proper trade and other secular schools to improve their living conditions.

Bailing out the Egyptian government, the economy and the people will not solve all of Egypt’s problems. But a solid bank account would be an important step to calm the improvished demonstrators in that biggest and most important Arab country. The Saudis have the cash and the chance to help the Egyptian’s and especially themselves. Someone should call 00201124393333.

Further Reading

Categories: EWI Blog, Latest News, Middle East & Africa, Muslim Brotherhood

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