Over the past decade, a coalition of Arab leaders has done everything they can to counter the progressive struggle for human rights in the Arab world, the tide of which cannot be reversed.
In an effort to preserve their crumbling regimes, the leaders of this alliance destroyed nations they once cherished for their civilization. They launched wars in Yemen, Syria and Libya that left these countries in ruins. In addition, it financed a military coup in Egypt, and tried the same in Tunisia and Turkey. These interventions resulted in the bloodshed of hundreds of thousands.
This struggle was fought in the name of defending the region against Islamists and extremism. From here, they were able to attract support of naive or malicious intent from the former colonial powers, France and Britain. But in reality, their “jihad” had nothing to do with defending liberalism or secularism.
These regimes did not hesitate to include religious forces on terrorist lists for political purposes. It sought hegemony and passed on autocracy from one generation to the next. In their view, power is part of the family’s inherited property.
In late 2015, that is, two years after the first overwhelming success of this coalition represented in the military coup in Egypt, its leaders – the rulers of Egypt, Bahrain, Jordan, and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and the Emirates – met secretly on board a yacht to plan their plans for the region, but now, after 6 years, it will be Collecting same characters on a yacht in the Red Sea is the most difficult.
The first reason is that the organizer of this secret summit, George Nader, is currently in prison for being convicted of pedophilia. The other reason is that the participants now harbor extreme hatred for each other.
‘Money is like rice’
Relations between Saudi Arabia and Egypt were the first to witness a cooling off. The Saudis no longer have “money like rice,” as Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi bragged to his office manager, Abbas Kamel. In any case, King Salman does not enjoy the same generosity as his late brother Abdullah, even if he has the money, which he does not.
President Al-Sisi tried to obtain a new financing line from Riyadh by granting it two uninhabited islands that have a strategic location on the Red Sea, namely Tiran and Sanafir, despite the strong protests inside Egypt. But the Saudis are no longer interested in such jewelery as the Suez Canal and the Gulf of Aqaba.
But their eyes shine when thinking of cheaper and faster ways to get to the Mediterranean – via Israel. It is true that Egypt does not publicly acknowledge this, but it is increasingly alarmed by plans to bypass the Suez Canal, which had expanded it worth $ 8.2 billion.
From reversing a desert pipeline, which was previously secret and extended from Iran to Israel during the reign of the Shah, to the development of ports and free zones in Israel, and the construction of a new fiber-optic cable in the Middle East, “Blue Raman”, all this points to one fate for Cairo It is a heavy loss in funds and regional influence.
We are not saying that there have never been any disputes in the past between the funder and his client state. Among them, Egypt refused to send troops to fight in the disastrous war of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Yemen, and to refrain from antagonizing Iran and its allies in Lebanon. But two new factors convince Egypt that its national interests are not always served by its regional allies.
The Biden Factor
The first factor is reflected in the arrival of Joe Biden to the presidency of the United States and his apparent hatred of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, although he refuses to punish him. President El-Sisi has no interest in joining Bin Salman in the camp of outcast dictators, on the contrary, he has a strong motive to distance himself from that clan.
Bin Salman’s international reputation has been tarnished after the publication US Intelligence Report About the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. And when the report was released, Mohammed bin Salman expected to receive a message of support from every member of his club, even those who were not members, such as Qatar.
And most of them did. King Abdullah II of Jordan, and the Sudanese prime minister, Abdullah Hamdok, flew to Riyadh. Other countries, such as Bahrain and the UAE, issued data. But the only country that remained silent is Egypt.
The second factor is the military defeat of Libyan Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, when his forces were repelled from Tripoli and retreated to Sirte. The Turkish intervention and the effectiveness of its drones campaign came as a shock to Egypt, whose agenda in Libya was driven by the UAE. Nevertheless, Egypt has invested heavily in training, arming, and resourcing Haftar’s forces.
And when both the UAE and Egypt discovered that they were on the losing side – and this was before Haftar pushed Sisi to intervene militarily – some in the Egyptian media began to publicly question the reason for Egypt being in this position. Libya is important to its neighbor for several reasons, chief among them the millions of Egyptians who work there in times of peace. Hence, Egypt is booming with the prosperity of Libya. Haftar’s defeat paved the way for direct talks with the government in Tripoli, and secret talks with the heads of Turkish intelligence.
As a result, Egypt and Turkey agreed in advance on the candidates from the losing list for the position of Libyan prime minister. When the Libyans rejected these candidates, this did not prejudice the tacit understanding between Ankara and Cairo. On the other hand, the relationship between Cairo and Abu Dhabi has become less close. The reservation began in relations due to a financial problem, but quickly escalated due to Abu Dhabi’s recognition of Israel.
The second wave
The second wave of normalization of relations with Israel removed the first from the road, and with it Egypt and Jordan lost their influence as the gatekeepers of the Arab world to Israel, and in return the UAE gained the same amount of influence.
And when Abu Dhabi announced that it would invest $ 10 billion in energy, manufacturing, water, space, health care and agricultural technology in Israel, it was not a coincidence that Jordan initially refused to allow Benjamin Netanyahu’s plane to use its airspace, and was forced to cancel his trip to the Emirates from which he aimed to collect prize money. Personally. Netanyahu’s office said the dispute with Amman stemmed from Israel’s decision to cancel the Jordanian crown prince’s plans to visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque the previous day.
Much of the legitimacy depends The Hashemite Dynasty For her role as custodian of the holy sites in occupied Jerusalem, a role that is now under public threat from her Saudi cousin with encouragement from Israel. Bin Salman is playing a zero-sum game. By developing his relationship with Israel, he undermines the stability of the secure side of the Israeli border.
The secret yacht summit convened to counter resistance from Turkey and Iran to their plans. Therefore, it is also no coincidence that two of the countries that attended that summit are working to reduce their hostility with Ankara.
Communication with Turkey
Turkey and Saudi Arabia are being pushed into each other’s arms thanks to an American president hostile to the Saudi crown prince and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Advisers told Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince, that if Biden wins, he will have to build bridges with Turkey.
Bin Salman, however, is not convinced, and he cannot overcome the feeling that Erdogan was bent on knocking him down over his order to kill Khashoggi. But the relationship between his father, King Salman, and Erdogan has never been broken. Therefore, attempts are being made to reach calm.
Ironically, Qatar offered its mediation; Because when the boycott of the Gulf states began, the Turks offered to mediate. Turkey maintains strong ties with Oman and Kuwait, and Ankara and Riyadh share an interest in showing Washington that they are influential regional actors.
But is there much more going on behind the scenes? The Houthis recently claimed to have shot down a drone that “had proven important to Azerbaijan,” in an indirect reference to Turkey. The plane was Turkish, but it was not used in Azerbaijan. Last year, the Saudi government signed a deal with a local company to supply armed drones after securing the right to transfer technology from Turkish defense company Vestel Karayel. Under the deal, the Kingdom received six unmanned aerial vehicles.
For its part, Turkey denies there is anything official about the transfer of this technology. A Turkish source familiar with the defense industry said Vestel Karayel had not requested government permission to conduct such a technology transfer to Riyadh. However, this incident raised eyebrows. Defense news website Janes stated that Vestel Karayel had not previously been known to provide services to the Saudi Army.
In any case, the Saudi boycott of Turkish products continues.
Correcting relations with Egypt
Cairo did not give weight to the series of statements issued last week by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, chief advisor to President Ibrahim Kalin and the president himself, Erdogan, about opening a new page with Egypt.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said, confirming that there are contacts with Cavusoglu, that Turkey should “abide by the principles of Egypt” before relations return to normal. The editor-in-chief of the Egyptian newspaper Al-Watan published 10 conditions that must be fulfilled before the return of relations.
These conditions will have the same effect in Ankara that had the 13 demands imposed by the blockading countries on Qatar.
Optimism began in Ankara when Egypt bid for oil and gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean, which recognized the coordinates of the continental shelf announced by Ankara. But Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias claimed that since then “modifications have been made” to those coordinates after a trip to Cairo.
Nevertheless, Turkish intelligence chiefs met their Egyptian counterparts several times. Away from the Libyan file, Turkey is providing assistance to the Egyptians in their dispute with Ethiopia over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. The UAE is doing the opposite by providing assistance to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
Muhammad Dahlan, the former head of security of Fatah movement residing in Abu Dhabi, made a public visit to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. But what was not announced is that his president, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, went with him, according to an informed source. Egypt is refraining from Turkey’s campaign to approach it, and there has been no breakthrough in relations.
In this regard, an official revealed to Middle East Eye: “Egypt wants Ankara to take at least a symbolic step regarding the presence of the Muslim Brotherhood in Turkey.”
If this is what is required, it will not be achieved. The Muslim Brotherhood does not have a physical presence, such as a regional office, in Turkey. So there’s really nothing to shut down. And if Ankara decides to oppose the members of the large Egyptian expatriate community in Istanbul, this will mean handing over individuals, which Turkey will not do. Besides, there is no apparent Turkish pressure being exerted on the Egyptian opposition media in Istanbul. In particular, Cairo would like to stop broadcasting Al-Sharq TV.
The owner of the channel, Dr. Ayman Nour, an Egyptian political opponent, told Middle East Eye: “The Turkish authorities have nothing to offer or withdraw when it comes to the Al Sharq channel, because we do not get funding from Turkey or Qatar. the East”.
Moreover, implementing any of this entails a strategic change not only in foreign policy, but also in domestic policy. While Turkey is a secular republic, Erdogan is the closest thing to an Islamist leader. None of these tensions in the coalition, which has put so much effort into suppressing democracy and free elections, can be considered decisive. The countries of this alliance could be using these initiatives with the declared enemy as a bargaining chip with each other.
However, weakness has crept into the alliance’s axis itself, and the lessons learned are becoming clear to everyone in the region. When foreign relations are based on secret agreements between leaders, each of whom has good reason to fear his own people, their mansions are built on sand. If it is based on the strategic interests of their people, it will be more permanent. The more national interests are based on the interests of the people, not the rulers, the more stable the region will be.
Until now, these relationships revolved around hugs one day, then stabs at noon the next day.
- This topic is translated from the site Middle East Eye British.