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The problem is ISIS, not the Brotherhood

Almost a month after the Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip began, Prince Saud Al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, broke his silence when he spoke at a press conference at the end of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation meeting, saying: "Israel does not have the right to self-defence as an occupier", pointing out that the Kingdom "considered the Palestinian cause to be a top priority", giving a list of the sums donated by the Kingdom for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip.

The statements made by Prince Faisal are an attempt to fix the serious mistake committed by the Saudi authorities over the past four weeks when it acted as if the Israeli aggression, including the massacres Israel committed against innocent children, which shook the entire world, was taking place on another continent.

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz, who spoke three times in less than 10 days, did not openly criticise the Israeli government nor did he take any action against it or call on his ally President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi to open the Rafah border crossing, as a minimum requirement, in order to accommodate the wounded.

In addition to this, he did not announce that his country would open its hospitals to accommodate the wounded victims of the Israeli aggression, as he had done on previous occasions, and we do not know how these matters were overlooked by his advisors and officials.

The information we have received says that the four-party alliance of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE and Jordan, firmly believe that Qatar and Turkey are the two countries that allow Hamas to fire rockets and escalate the tensions with Israel in order to drive Israel to respond, thus embarrassing the Egyptian regime and the camp supporting it and causing chaos in the region.

We do not know how accurate this information is, but what we are certain of is the fact that this alliance's dealings with the Israeli aggression worked in favour of the Turkish and Qatari plan, if it exists, and put the alliance in a very awkward position in front of its people, first, and secondly in front of the Arab public opinion in general, meaning they have fallen into the Turkish-Qatari trap, if one had actually been set.

This Saudi-Egyptian- Emirati- Jordanian alliance's reading of the crisis posed by the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip was completely wrong and emotional and its handling of the crisis in the early weeks was therefore not at the required and expected level.

To better explain this, I say that the Saudi-Egyptian- Emirati-Jordanian predictions expected three main scenarios:

· First: That Israel would end its aggression once Hamas and all the other resistance factions were eliminated within a few days, thinking the Israeli forces would occupy Gaza, if even for a brief period, and assassinate or detain all of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad officials, and then hand over authority of the Gaza Strip to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. This explains Saudi Arabia's silence and Egypt's continued closure of the Rafah crossing during the first week of aggression and its very limited opening during the second week.

· Second: That the people of Gaza would revolt against Hamas and the other resistance factions and hold them accountable for the Israeli aggression, and before that, the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip, but what happened was the exact opposite. All the people of Gaza, or at least the vast majority, rallied behind the resistance and gave it all moral support despite the large losses of lives and homes.

· Third: That the resistance movements, led by Hamas, would fail to retaliate against the aggression and wave the white flags and surrender, accepting any ceasefire without conditions, but what happened was the exact opposite, which stunned everyone.

I do not rule out the possibility that the Egyptian intelligence, which plays a key role in the blockade on Gaza and in the humiliation of its citizens, is the one that predicted these scenarios and convinced its Arab allies of its accuracy. This would explain the aforementioned four-party alliance's silence throughout the first three weeks of aggression, the failure to dismiss the Israeli ambassadors in Amman and Cairo, and the absence of a call for an emergency meeting of the Arab Summit or even the Arab League foreign ministers, at the very least.

The blatant hostility the four mentioned countries harbour for the Muslim Brotherhood and the war being waged against them has blinded them from seeing anything else in the region, and has driven them to rank Israel as the fifth or sixth political and security priority. This has caused them not to consider Hamas as a resistance movement, and therefore view the Gaza Strip and the nearly two million Palestinians living there as part of this movement and remain silent in the face of the oppression, humiliation, and starvation committed against them. All of this has led to the infliction of serious harm to these countries as well as their embarrassment before their people and the Arab public opinion, which ultimately serves the other opposing camp, particularly political Islam, whether represented in Iran, Syria, Iraq, or the Turkish-Qatari axis, at least in the short and medium-terms. However, we do not know which genius advised them to adopt such policies.

The Saudi-Egyptian- Emirati-Jordanian axis made a mistake in its accounts when it considered the Muslim Brotherhood the greatest threat to the region's security and stability, just as it made the mistake of believing that the task of toppling the regime in Syria would be an easy process that could be achieved within a few months. Before these two mistakes, this axis (with the exception of Jordan) made the mistake of supporting the two American invasions in Iraq, both in its first destructive phase and in its second occupation phase.

The unprecedented existential threat to this axis is the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS) led by the "Caliph" Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi in both Iraq and Syria and the increasing likelihood of its expansion into Saudi Arabia through its northern borders with Iraq and its spread into Egypt by means of the western border between Libya and Egypt. It was no coincidence that the Saudi authorities deployed 30,000 soldiers to its border with Iraq in anticipation of the Islamic State (ISIS) troops approaching the border and that Prince Mutaib Bin Abdulaziz, commander of the National Guard and the son of the Saudi monarch went to check on these forces yesterday morning.

There is no harm in recalling the Saudi monarch's focus in his last three speeches on the danger of the Islamic State (ISIS) and putting the blame on scholars and clerics who did not take serious actions to combat their ideology, even accusing them of being lazy. It is worth noting that the scholars and preachers did not respond to this appeal, as expected, but the majority remained silent.

For Prince Mutaib to deny the presence of Egyptian and Pakistani troops stationed on the Saudi borders with Iraq is not strange, and even if these forces were actually stationed there, it would not change the facts much in the event that Islamic State (ISIS) forces launch an attack, as Al-Maliki's forces would only last a few hours against ISIS, and the same goes for the Kurdish Peshmerga forces which have been trained by Americans and Israeli forces. The same could be said for the forces in Yemen and Libya. Basically, what I am trying to say is that this phenomenon has become too dangerous for one state alone to face, regardless of how powerful it is.

The Saudi monarch is rightfully worried about the existence of ISIS which has, so far, spread its influence on the "belt" stretching from the far east of Iraq to the far west of Syria and all the fertile land, oil wells, and main dams, including the Mosul Dam, which is the fourth largest dam in the area. These forces also control the waters of the most important river in Iraq. Therefore it is not surprising that President Al-Sisi made an announcement a day before his first visit to the Kingdom regarding the need to form an Arab front to face this danger without demanding the same thing to confront Israel, which has committed massacres in Gaza during the same time; a major sin that is hard to forgive.

The Saudi monarch also has the right to be worried because there are 5,000 Saudi citizens fighting in ISIS' ranks, some of whom are leaders of special units that specialise in executions, crucifixions, and murdering of enemies, as well as carrying out "martyrdom" operations. It is worth noting that a limited number of these individuals responded to the amnesty decree issued by the King of Saudi Arabia and returned home.

If Saudi wants to truly combat this danger, the first step that must be taken, other than internal reform, is to radically change its regional policies and adopt policies that support the resistance in confronting Israel and burying the peace initiative launched 12 years ago but was never met with anything other than contempt.

Anyone supporting the Palestinian cause and the right of people to resist has benefited from this, while those who opposed this always lost; this is the only issue that unites Arabs and Muslims over its justice.

If some "suspicious" parties are trying to convince the Saudi-Egyptian- Jordanian-Emirati alliance that Israel could be the alternative ally to America in facing Iran, then these parties are selling this alliance a delusion because Israel, which has failed to confront the forces in Gaza or achieve any of the objectives of their attack, and whose political and moral weaknesses have been exposed to the fierce resistance forces, has started its downwards spiral to weakness and has not won any of its recent wars after the rules of the game changed.

Moreover, the confrontations between armies are no longer how they were in the past, as nowadays, the strong will achieve victory, not aircrafts, tanks, and cartoonish iron domes that will lose their effect in the coming rounds of the battles. All we need to do is review the reasons behind ISIS' advancement and the steadfastness and victory of the resistance factions in Gaza, and only time will tell.

Translated from Raialyoum,12 August, 2014

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

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