Egypt Versus Saudi Arabia: New Rules
For months during the Egyptian uprising, Thomas Friedman assured his (Zionist) readers that the Egyptian uprising has no foreign policy goals whatsoever. He probably was trying to allay the fears of Israelis. (Only recently, Thomas Friedman sneakily switched positions and said that the only issue that matters in the next presidential election in Egypt will be foreign policy and the state of relations with Israel).
Yet, it was obvious for all those who followed the Egyptian uprising and its slogans that the Egyptian youth have many foreign policy goals and that they will press for a shift in Egyptian foreign policy. In fact, one of the most oft-repeated slogans in Cairo against Mubarak and his deputy, Omar Sulayman, was that both were “agents of the Americans.”
But the new foreign policy of Egypt – which will take shape over the period of democratization, however long that takes – will also change Egypt’s foreign policies to Arab countries and the role of Egypt in the region.
The Egyptian people have many reasons to be angry with Saudi Arabia’s government. Here are some reasons:
Many Saudi princes favor spending vacations in Egypt and there have been many (suppressed by Mubarak) stories about corruption and thuggery and misconduct by Saudi princes and their entourage.
The Egyptian people have noticed that the Saudi royal family and Israel were the biggest champions of Mubarak until the last hour of his rule. Egyptians have also noticed that Saudi Arabia offered to shelter Mubarak during the revolution and have pressured SCAF to sabotage his trial.
Egyptians have heard for years about stories of mistreatment of Egyptians in Saudi Arabia. Mubarak (like most Arab republican leaders) was receiving cash payments from Gulf rulers and would use his dictatorial rule to suppress any unfavorable stories about the Saudi royal family and its repression. Furthermore, the Saudi injustice system applies only to poor Arabs and Muslims, and many of those rules have been applied to Egyptian workers in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia has enjoyed favorable press coverage in Egypt for far too long, brought to it by Saudi payments to corrupt Mubarak’s protégés in the Egyptian media.
Egyptians have known that Saudi Arabia’s government has been complicit with the ruling military council to sabotage the revolutionary process in Egypt.
Egyptians, like other Arabs, have noticed the growing signs of an alliance between Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Egyptians often harken back to the years when Egypt (under Nasser) lead the Arab world and even the Muslim world and the developing world. The decline of Egypt’s regional role has coincided with the rise of the Saudi era.
Saudi Arabian media was very hostile toward the Egyptian uprising. Al-Arabiya (the news station of King Fahd’s brother-in-law) advocated openly against Egyptian protesters. Randa Abou el-Azm, its Cairo chief correspondent, was chasing down protesters before the fall of Mubarak and appeared to harass them, and she was known as a propagandist for the Mubarak regime.
The Egyptian uprising made slogans about dignity, nationalism, and the individual more popular. Many Egyptians have resented the Saudi use of cash payments to achieve their goals in Egypt and elsewhere.
This crisis won’t go away and the Egyptian uprising won’t achieve its goals in one month or two. Its victory is not inevitable especially when the US/Israel, and the Arab royal order are conspiring against it. This will be a long process but the rules of the games have changed. And those rules won’t favor the arch supporters of Mubarak, especially the US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia.
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