Saudi subversion: Gulf kingdom backs Egypt in defiance of Washington

William Engdahl
William Engdahl is an award-winning geopolitical analyst and strategic risk consultant whose internationally best-selling books have been translated into thirteen foreign languages. He has lectured as Visiting Professor at Beijing University of Chemical Technology and delivers talks and private seminars around the world on subjects of current importance from economics to oil geopolitics to agribusiness. A widely discussed analyst of current political and economic developments, his provocative articles and analyses have appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines and well-known international websites. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization in Montreal and member of the editorial board of Eurasia magazine. Based in Frankfurt, Germany he may be reached via his website
Saudi subversion: Gulf kingdom backs Egypt in defiance of Washington
The open backing by Saudi King Abdullah for the military crackdown in Egypt adds an entirely new dimension to the ongoing crisis.

RT was one of the few to report that the Egyptian military’s removal by force of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi and his entire government was undertaken with the firm, secret backing of Saudi Arabia and several Gulf oil states, directly in defiance of Washington’s agenda. 

Now Saudi King Abdullah has confirmed this in an open declaration of support for Egypt’s military action against what the King called “terrorists.” It is the most open declaration to date that there is a huge and deepening rift between Washington and the Saudis of a scale perhaps unprecedented since the 1945 agreements between US President Roosevelt and then King Ibn Saud.

In his official August 16 statement, King Abdullah declared, “The people and government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia stood and still stand today with our brothers in Egypt against terrorism, extremism and sedition, and against whoever is trying to interfere in Egypt's internal affairs…”  So much for Obama’s call for “dialogue” between the army and the Brotherhood.

The Saudi support for Army head and Defense Minister General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi was immediately backed by Jordan and the Emirates. It came after several days of violent protests by Muslim Brotherhood supporters in several Egyptian cities, which resulted in hundreds of deaths in clashes between the military and Brotherhood backers demanding Morsi’s return. NATO governments, led by  Washington, have at the same time have tried to increase pressure on the provisional government to reinstate Morsi and the “democratically elected” government.

The US cancelled joint military exercises with Egypt and warned that the “traditional” military ties with the US were at risk should the military refuse to budge. Angela Merkel phoned French President Hollande on August 16 and both called for an EU “review” of relations with Egypt. What is clear in both EU and Washington reactions to date is that they are hard-pressed to do anything.

The EU is hardly eager to inflame Saudi leaders into another oil embargo, as was done in the October 1973 Yom Kippur War. Now the open backing by Saudi King Abdullah for the military crackdown creates an entirely new dimension to the crisis. 

Saudi's King Abdullah (AFP Photo/SPA)

Erdogan’s high-risk dilemma

Most notable in this unfolding power struggle which has taken on international dimensions is the fact that one of the lone Islamic voices to condemn the Egyptian July 3 military intervention is Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. His government threatened to suspend relations with Egypt over the crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood supporters.

According to informed Turkish reports privately told to this writer, Erdogan’s AKP Islamist party, which is believed to be a sister of the Muslim Brotherhood, won the last election with the help of an alleged $10 billion Saudi “campaign contribution.”

Erdogan’s failure to act as Washington’s military proxy two years ago in the planned removal of Syria’s Bashar al Assad regime , which was to be replaced by a Muslim Brotherhood-run government, has caused him major internal problems, including massive protests and calls for his dismissal in recent months. His siding against clear Saudi wishes to get rid of the Muslim Brotherhood threat across the Islamic world will isolate him from one of his largest if not the largest financial contributor.

With seething unrest across Turkey in protest over the latest sentencing of some 200 trade union leaders, retired Turkish generals and prominent journalists to exceedingly severe jail terms for allegations of “conspiracy” to engineer a coup against Erdogan-AKP rule, that Islamic “model” of Washington is rapidly becoming unstable.

Police men and residents throw stones in front of Azbkya police station during clashes with protesters who support ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi at Ramses Square in Cairo, August 16, 2013. (Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

The war in Syria, which now is openly being waged by affiliates of al-Qaeda and with de facto US support, has been a major setback for Washington’s Muslim Brotherhood strategy of regime change across the Islamic world.  The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani –  the largest financial backer of the war against Syria’s Assad and sponsor of the Muslim Brotherhood organization –  surprisingly relinquished his throne in favor of his more moderate son, Tamim.  The emir’s abdication was evidently done so as not to risk the wrath of his big Saudi neighbor, and has also served to further isolate Turkey in the region.

All things notwithstanding, it is clear at this point that the US has no intention of abandoning its backing for the Muslim Brotherhood; not in Egypt, not in Syria, and not across the Islamic “arc of crisis” spanning from Afghanistan to Morocco. The future of American Sole Superpower domination is irreversibly bound with the Greater Middle East Project as George W. Bush’s administration called the strategy in 2003 after the invasion of Iraq. What’s new for Washington planners is that the former compliant “vassal” states like Saudi Arabia or Egypt are refusing to follow Washington dictates and Washington evidently has yet to figure out a “Plan B” to such a situation.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.