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Petrodollar largesse explodes after coup success

January 27, 2014 at 2:32 pm

Why were the Gulf States of Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia so unhappy at the success of the January 2011 revolution in Egypt and so passionate about the June 30 coup? The revolution had, after all, removed one of Israel’s “strategic treasures”. Why are these states pouring so much money into a regime which imposed itself by force after overthrowing an elected president who represented the first fruit of the democratic transition in Egypt for the first time in history? Why reward a coup but punish a revolution?

The counter-revolution is dancing to the tune of petrodollars from the Gulf in a scenario starkly reminiscent of scenes from a movie called “Cabaret” (not the 1972 Bob Fosse film of the same name) in which the lyric, “I salute Saudi Arabia and Arab nations, and say hello to the Emirates as it is full of dollars” is prominent. The singer celebrates with money pouring on his head and over naked bodies swaying to the music.

It does not take a genius to work out that this sudden passion and generosity is not targeted towards Egypt or its people. This is all about relations between regimes; the people have to be removed from the equation. Regimes hate revolutions and they reacted so badly when the people of Egypt overthrew a corrupt regime that the tyrant’s fellows elsewhere in the region just had to get even with them.

They did that by supporting a coup against the revolution’s achievements, and when the coup succeeded and abducted the democratically-elected president the backing regimes opened the doors of the bank to reward the new, interim [sic], military-backed regime. Money flowed into Egypt to solve man-made crises at a stroke. Emotions are meaningless here, as there are generally no problems between Arab people anywhere. What governs relations between regimes are pragmatism and opportunistic values. The people of Egypt are, after all, the same people who were there post-revolution as post-coup; what has changed to turn Gulf frowns to Gulf smiles and largesse?

If it is true that Egypt’s new rulers have decided to cancel the Gulf of Suez Development Project in the light of the donations and rewards coming from the UAE, Saudi and Kuwait, then we get to see a clear image of Egypt as the Gulf regimes picture it; a state needing and content to live on handouts, and not a dynamic Egypt looking to the future brightly as it struggles out from under the rubble of 30 years of Mubarak rule.

The decision to overthrow Mohamed Morsi was not taken a few weeks ago. I remember how Gulf faces darkened at the Doha Summit in March when the Egyptian President said that he will not allow anyone “to lay a finger on Egypt” or “interfere in Egypt’s internal affairs”. Anyone thinking of doing so, added the president, “will be met with strict resolve, and everyone must understand this.”

Mohamed Morsi’s crime as far as the Gulf States are concerned was to regard himself as the leader of a big country and talk about self-sufficiency. That was a step too far for the revolution-averse Gulf regimes, so he had to be punished and punished quickly. That is why the petrodollar largesse exploded so spectacularly after “their” coup succeeded in removing him from the scene.

The author is an Egyptian writer. This article is a translation of the Arabic text which appeared in Shorouk newspaper on 12 July 2013.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.