I really dislike the idea that having money means that you are worth something as an individual, as such a view expresses the heinous materialism in the world, in which all human values are replaced by the value of money when evaluating people, their behaviour and society’s opinion of them. However, it seems that times are changing and we are in a period of major developments, the deviation of the compass, a change in standards and a change of concepts. This idea has become our reality now that we are living in a hypocritical world.
Not so long ago, Saudi Arabia was seen by the entire world as the source of terrorism funding and ideology, and a breeding ground for terrorists around the world. The corrupt elites in Egypt would once describe Saudis as Bedouins and would say that they were a backwards nation that was exporting Wahhabism, or Bedouin Islam, in order to change Egypt’s civilised traditions and customs. They would also claim that the Saudis wanted to impose the Gulf dialect on Egypt’s by acquiring and dominating the major entertainment production centres and monopolising the music business in the Arab world. Some, especially the Christian elites, went as far as describing the Saudis as invaders of Egypt because ‘Amr Ibn Al-‘As led the conquest of the country in 640 CE.
However, the whole situation has changed overnight, and the same elites are now praising Saudi Arabia’s role and blessing its takeover of Egypt’s Tiran and Sanafir islands at the northern end of the Red Sea. They are rushing to welcome a visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman to Egypt, and competing against each other to be one of the lucky ones who have the chance to meet him. The newspapers are filled with articles glorifying this young man who aspires to the throne, their glorification reaching the level of corruption, disbelief and infidelity. An example of this is the headline in Al-Dostor newspaper, which read, “How Mohammad Bin Salman regained Allah from the hands of the extremists”.
The streets across Egypt were filled with electronic and regular billboards with pictures of the Crown Prince welcoming him. In a startling breach of protocol, the Egyptian Head of State, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, waited at the foot of the aircraft steps to greet Bin Salman, even though the Prince is not even the monarch yet.
This is very humiliating and offensive for a state that constantly boasts of its 7,000-year-old civilisation. This is not the first time that Al-Sisi has broken such protocol, as he previously boarded a plane to meet the late Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz. They held a meeting on the aircraft and he sat with his entourage as if he were a member of the Saudi group, rather than sitting on the other side of the room in his capacity as the Egyptian president and the counterpart of the King.
Since the military coup in 2013, Saudi Arabia has been one of Al-Sisi’s main supporters, along with the UAE, treating Egypt like a vassal state or dealing with it based on the kafala (“sponsorship”) system. It was with Saudi Arabian money that Al-Sisi staged a coup against the first elected president in Egyptian history. It was Saudi Arabian money that put the coup leader in power and is keeping him in power. Saudi Arabia’s money allowed it to buy Egyptian land and it will be Saudi money which will implement Bin Salman’s transnational economic zone (the NEOM project), which will link the Saudi, Egyptian, Jordanian, and occupied Palestinian borders.
As part of this project, the Egyptian government has given Saudi Arabia 1,000 km of land in southern Sinai to be a part of a mega city, commercial zone and tourist attractions; it will include resorts and yacht marinas. This land was the most important achievement of the young, Machiavellian Bin Salman during his visits to Egypt.
He has taken the first steps towards implementing the NEOM project, which first and foremost serves the interests of Israel, as it is a stepping stone for the new Middle East, promoted by Shimon Peres in the 1990s to normalise relations between Israel and the Arab countries by implementing shared projects dominated by the Israelis. Peres was unable to achieve this, as the level of hatred and animosity within the Arab nations towards Israel was at its highest and was not yet destroyed by the liberal elites created in US research centres and sent back to the Arab countries in order to corrupt and reshape the collective Arab conscience and mindset.
This new Middle East project re-emerged once against during the presidency of George W Bush and was promoted by the then US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, in 2006. However, it was hindered once again and was not implemented, as there was still some reservation from the Arab nations and they stood on firm ground, not the spongy foundations that they have today; the fact is that most of the major Arab countries that stood against the Israeli-led project have been broken up and distracted by civil wars, such as Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen, while the others are exhausted by their domestic issues. In the meantime, the Palestinian cause has taken a backseat in the minds of the Arab citizens. What’s more, we are living under the rule of those selected to control the destiny of the Arab people and direct them based on the desires of Israel, such as the Zayeds in the UAE and the Saudi Crown Prince, who is willing to give and do anything and everything in order to sit on his country’s throne. Hence, he is being very quick to implement his Zionist NEOM project in order to accelerate normalisation with Israel.
Meanwhile, the “deal of the century” is on the verge of being announced. This deal includes the annexation of Jordanian land and the Sinai Peninsula parallel to Gaza in order to become an alternative homeland for the Palestinians and to eliminate their legitimate right of return once and for all. This Palestinian cause will ultimately be liquidated with the move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem on 14 May, a day before Nakba Day, commemorated annually to remember when Palestine was officially occupied in 1948. This day in particular was chosen for the controversial move to further humiliate and degrade the Arabs and Muslims. It is unfortunate that its supporters include Arabs who are seeking to take the deal to its conclusion and move the embassy in order to accelerate normalisation with Israel.
This is evident in the pressure applied by Saudi Arabia and Egypt on Jordan’s King Abdullah II and the President of the so-called Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas — whose official term in office was supposed to end many years ago — to abandon Jerusalem. They have also tried to replace Abbas with Mohammad Dahlan, while he has tried to undermine the government in Jordan and had a failed coup attempt. All of this serves the same objective. Trump could not have made his decision without the go-ahead from these Arab leaders; how many previous US presidents promised to move the embassy during their time in the White House, but did not dare to do so?
The Saudi Crown Prince made sure to visit the Egyptian Coptic Church, as it seems such a visit is part of the CV required by the White House in order to hand the throne over to him. The church ignored tradition and, for the first time, the visiting country’s flag was hoisted in the background. Corrupt individuals justified this move by saying that the Saudi flag bears words of the Muslim Shahadah, or declaration of faith. The church has held open and secret hostile positions against Saudi Arabia since the time of its former Pope, Shenouda III, but Saudi Arabia’s money can buy away animosity and change policies, especially if there is another mutual enemy involved that brings them together in political Islam, which they both call “terrorism”.
Just as Saudi Arabia’s money was able to fill Egyptian streets with pictures of the ambitious Crown Prince and posters welcoming him, British streets also faced a deluge of signs and images welcoming him to the UK. The oldest democracy in the world was made to like a tinpot third world country.
Saudi Arabia’s money even managed to buy pages in the British media, including the Establishment favourites the Times and the Daily Telegraph, in order to cheer and glorify the young “reformist” prince who will bring Saudi Arabia into the modern age. They forgot or overlooked the dictator’s arrest of fellow princes, intellectuals, reformers and clerics, as well as the public executions and the human rights disasters caused by Bin Salman’s crazy war in Yemen.
All of this was forgotten for the sake of British trade deals, and so that British Aerospace could continue to sell its Typhoon fighters to the Royal Saudi Air Force, the third generation of which are due to be handed over soon. Moreover, the London Stock Exchange is hoping to win the right to list Aramco shares on the open market; it is the largest oil company in the world.
The language of “interests” and money is stronger than that of human rights and justice, about which nobody cares unless they are related to their own communities or can deliver votes. We are living in a hypocritical and cowardly world.
Opinion: The Kingdom of corruption
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.