Governments in the Gulf seem to be taking the lead in supporting the interim government in Egypt after the army ousted of the country’s first democratically elected president in July.
On July 4, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait were the first to congratulate the newly formed interim government led by Adly Mansour along with granting his government 12 billion US dollars in aid.
Their backing extended to supporting the way the new regime in Egypt has been handling the protests against the ouster of Morsi and against the coup.
On August 15, the coup-backed government decided to break up the sit-in of Morsi supporters and anti coup protesters at Raba’a Square. The crackdown resulted in the deaths of over 600 civilians and sparked several protests across Egypt and more deaths after clashes with security forces.
The UAE government was first to voice its support of the security forces crackdown on what it called “extremist” groups.
“The UAE re-affirms its understanding of the sovereign measures taken by the Egyptian government after having exercised maximum self-control,” the UAE foreign ministry said in a statement through state news agency WAM on Wednesday hours after the crackdown.
“It is a foreign policy that reflects a domestic national policy, which favors a controlled society with oppressed freedoms”
The Saudi government reiterated the same statements made by the UAE, with the Saudi King urging other Arab and Muslim countries to support Egypt against terrorism.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, its people and government, stood, and stand by today, with its brothers in Egypt, against terrorism.”
“I call on the honest men of Egypt and the Arab and Muslim nations to stand as one man and with one heart in the face of attempts to destabilize a country that is at the forefront of Arab and Muslim history,” said the royal statement that was read out on state TV.
After the deadly crackdown on the Raba’a Square sit-in, political and intellectual figures in the US and internationally questioned the legality of the US 1.5 billion dollars of aid to Egypt.
Following reports of US suspension of certain aid to Egypt as well as President Obama’s cancelation of joint army exercises with Egypt, the Saudi Foreign Minister stated that his government would be willing to provide any financial help Egypt would need that would make up for US or foreign aid.
“To those who had declared they are stopping aid to Egypt or are waving such a threat, the Arab and Muslim nations are wealthy with their people and resources and will not shy away from offering a helping hand to Egypt,” Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said according to state news agency.
As odd as the Gulf countries’ support to the new army-backed government in Egypt may seem, it is as easy to trace the reason behind this support in the domestic policies of these governments. It is a foreign policy that reflects a domestic national policy, which favors a controlled society with oppressed freedoms.
The UAE government has been widely criticized for recent arrests and trials of the 94 persons accused of attempting to overthrow the government. They are also accused of being part of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, which is banned in the UAE. Human Rights Watch called the trial a “mockery of justice.”
The UAE government has also been implementing strong policies against any voicing of discontent, through social media, with government policies, officials or any thing that might damage the country’s reputation.
The Saudi government has been accused of being the backward in the region, with laws that restrict women and controversial ultra-restrict application of Sharia law.
The Saudi government has recently sentenced Raef Badawi, a Saudi Internet activist to seven years in prison and 600 lashes for undermining general security and ridiculing religious figures using a website he created, which called for change and more freedom in the kingdom.
Those countries have been the least affected by the Arab Spring not because of the existence of advanced freedoms or democracy but because of the very existence of those oppressive governments who have zero tolerance to any call for reform.
The Saudi and UAE governments sent 1,500 troops to Bahrain in 2012 in order to rescue its king and head of state from an unrest that took the country by surprise and was influenced by the unrests in Tunisia and Egypt. They supported the Sunni king, of a country of suppressed Shia majority, because the Arab Spring was too close to their doors, threatening their grip of power.
Therefore, it is no wonder that those governments stand behind any regime, such as the new Egyptian rulers, that would prove that the Arab Spring had failed, at least partially, by giving a voice and power to such “extreme” and “terrorist” groups as the Muslim Brotherhood.
This fierce support would assert and advance their credibility in the eyes of their citizens who might question the crackdown on other fellow citizens who call for change and reform.
The UAE and Saudi Arabia governments proved to be willing to stand, with their financial weight and political influence, behind the killing and the massacring of citizens of any country, even their own, if that means securing their seats and surviving the Arab youth “fling” that is called the Arab Spring.
EDITOR’S PICK Ignoring taboos, Syria war wounded treated in Israel