As Washington Dithers, Arabs Rally To Egypt’s Revolt Against Political Islam
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
Arabs are flocking to support Egypt’s upheaval against political Islam.
In the past ten days alone Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates pledged $12 billion in cash, fuel, food, wheat, interest-free loans, and gifts. Vast shipments of gasoline and wheat have poured in so fast that the four-hour standard waits at gasoline stations and a shortage of bread disappeared overnight.
No doubt the support is sincere, but no doubt, too, that the endorsement is also driven by the danger Islamists represent in these countries’ own backyards. On July 3, the day President Morsi was removed by the army in Cairo, a court at Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, sentenced 61 professionals of the Muslim Brotherhood to between 10 and 25 years for plotting a coup.
As the estrangement between Egypt and its rich allies comes to end, a clearer strategic view is emerging. Oil-rich Arabs are turning the clock back to a time when Egypt stood as top dog in confrontation with Iran, while resuming its leadership role as big brother. Poorer Arab nations including Jordan, Algeria, and Morocco, lost in the wilderness for years, are finding their place in the new order, as with anti-Islamist forces in Tunisia and Syria.
Israel has said little in public about the new alignments, but it can only be comforted. Israeli strategists have long maintained a close cooperation with Egypt’s military and intelligence services, which has intensified in the past few days as the Egyptian army pursues Jihadists from Hamas in find-and-kill missions.
For now, all this provided an opening, if only that, for a repressed Arab press. It is responding with attacks on political Islam, whose media vehicles in Egypt and elsewhere have been shut. A prominent example was the forced resignation last week of Abdel Bari Atwan, the long reigning hawkish, anti-American, and anti-Semitic Palestinian chief editor of Al-Quds, a London-based daily.
In a new vernacular, radical Islam emerges as malevolent monster conspiring against multi-sectarian, multi-religious, and multi-ethnic societies, advocating Wahhabi Islam, civil wars, and financial ruin.
The new pan-Arab cynicism is rooted in disappointments with such Islamist militias as Hezbollah and Hamas, piled upon multiple atrocities by Islamists against fellow Arabs in Algeria, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq and a loss of interest in the so-called “Peace Process” that has led nowhere.
Among all Arab countries, tiny Qatar stands on the opposite side of this socio-political divide. With a native population of a quarter million people, compared to Egypt’s 90 million, Qatar can punch way above its weight, thanks to abundant oil and natural gas wealth.
With the highest per capita income on earth — estimated by the CIA’s World Fact Book at $103,900 a year — Qatar has set itself up as an unrivaled patron of political Islam. During Mr. Morsi’s single year in power, his Islamist government collected from Qatar a cool $ 10billion in grants to Islamize Egypt. The petite nation-state spent some $30 billion building Al Jazeera.
Al Jazeera’s sole owners, the rulers of Qatar, have been so distraught by the turn of events they are turning their journalistic and diplomatic voices against the Egyptian army and people, advocating nothing less than “a war between Muslims and non-believers.” It is tantamount to a call for civil war.
Other regional enemies of Egypt’s Revolution Two include Turkey’s Islamist prime minister, Recep Tayyeb Erdogan, and fellow travelers in Iran, Hamas and Tunisia. Watching their model of political Islam collapse in just about 10 days they are regrouping. Mr. Erdogan intends to visit Gaza from the sea, after Egypt told him he couldn’t do it across its borders with Israel. Qatar was told it could send no one, and no weapons into Gaza from Egypt anymore.
By far the most crabbed reaction to Egypt’s Rebellion Movement comes from Washington, where President Obama has wavered. He cannot decide whether what happened in Egypt is a popular revolution, which can rank for American support, or a coup, which demands a cutoff of American aid.
The president left all enunciation of policy on the issue to two junior spokesmen. One is America’s ambassador to Cairo, Anne Patterson, whose telephone calls nowadays often go unanswered because of widespread perception she has supported the Muslim Brotherhood. The other is a junior State Department spokeswoman, Jennifer Psaki, who appears to flounder in press briefings over a definition of what constitutes a coup and to support Islamist demands for a return of Mr. Morsi as president.
More than unrealistic, the request is an insult to a majority of Egyptians.
So where do we go from here?
Between the escapades of the American traitor Edward Snowden at a Moscow airport and dithering on Egypt in Washington, America is losing influence. With so much money entering their coffers, Egyptians are not concerned over threats to suspend an annual American stipend of $1.5 billion.
As it stands, much of this money — $1.3 billion— is dedicated to the Egyptian army to pay for American made weapons. As the talk show host Jon Stewart joked on his Daily Show, it is “like a mother giving her child money to buy her gifts.”
A more innovative American approach would start with a public renunciation of political Islam as the anti-democratic and fascist practice it is for any people aspiring to liberty.