Creative Chaos: Egypt and the Gulf
… Egypt is worried following the death of King Abdullah …
OE Watch Commentary: According to Adel Suleiman, a retired Egyptian general turned strategic analyst, the current unraveling of the Middle East is the result of a deliberate American policy to foment “creative chaos.” This policy is part of the broader project to remake the region and hinges, according to him, on the dismantling of the Arab republics’ armies. He notes that over the past few years the project has picked up steam, as the armies of Libya, Syria, and now Yemen have joined Iraq in the graveyard of nationalist Arab armies. He concludes that Egypt is the only strong Arab army left standing among the republics of the Middle East.
Analysts throughout the region wonder where Egypt is heading. According to the second accompanying excerpt, from a Lebanese newspaper, the Egyptian military’s actions moving forward will determine whether it “will succeed in regaining its bonds and stability or it will fail and the process of disintegration will begin.” The author identifies growing distance with the United States as the key variable in this critical juncture. The strongest indicator of this, for him, was American disapproval of Egypt’s mid-February airstrikes in Libya. Laying out the red carpet for Russian President Vladimir Putin in Cairo only a few days before the strikes occurred only helped exacerbate the tensions, he believes.
Turbulence in its relations with Saudi Arabia makes Egypt’s situation all the more uncertain. In early March Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah al-Sisi stopped in Riyadh for a few hours to visit Salman, the new Saudi king. There was some patching up to do as a result of embarrassing leaks in which al-Sisi seemed to express disdain for Gulf leaders. On top of this, Egyptian and Saudi security interests are diverging. From the Egyptian perspective, Libya and the Sinai are the key areas that require attention; for Saudi Arabia, it is Yemen and Iraq that are of greatest concern. This divergence has created a foreign policy rift between the two countries, particularly in their dealings with Turkey and Qatar, whom Egypt views as supporters of its enemies in Libya and the Sinai. Saudi Arabia, in contrast, has begun a policy of rapprochement with Turkey and a full reintegration of Qatar into the embrace of the Gulf Cooperation Council. The third accompanying article, written by an influential Saudi columnist, highlights Egypt’s concerns with Saudi Arabia’s new foreign policy. The author fears that Egypt’s media are working themselves into a nationalist, anti-monarchical frenzy that could have dangerous consequences.
Following Egypt’s bombing of Libya, which in the final accompanying article from Qatar’s al-Jazeera is referred to as “al-Sisi’s mistake,” dozens of additional Egyptian citizens were kidnapped in Libya. Tens of thousands have poured back across the border over the past weeks, and it is unclear how the Egyptian economy will accommodate them, particularly if Gulf funding is curtailed. Whither Egypt is anyone’s guess. End OE Watch Commentary (Winter)
Source: Adel Suleiman. “New Middle East with Armies Stripped Away,” al-Araby al-Jadid. 12 February 2015.
It appears that an element of the “creative chaos” which is to bring about the new Middle East is the end of national armies in key Arab countries… the West considers them the main obstacle to creating a new Middle East, with the most prominent among them being Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen…. the dissolution of the Iraqi Army was the first nail in the coffin of the region’s national armies, it was the test tube for the US’s “New Middle East” Project…
Source: Sami Klaib. “The Rules of the Game: Destruction of the Egyptian Army after the Iraqi and the Syrian?” 23 February 2015.
The picture will become bleaker the more publicly President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi deepens his alliance with Russia and China and the more conflictive his relation with the US becomes… Egypt is forbidden from regaining its dignity. It is forbidden from mobilizing beyond its borders without American permission. …. This is an extremely sensitive moment, for either the army will succeed in regaining its bonds and stability or it will fail and the process of disintegration will begin, which will make it easier for Israel to impose a new security balance amidst a sea of blood, terrorism and the disgraceful disintegration of the Arabs.
Source: Khaled al-Dakhil. “Saudi Transformation and Egyptian Worries,” al-Hayat, 1 March 2015.
It is clear that Egypt is worried following the death of King Abdullah… Egyptian media claims that King Salman’s position toward the Muslim Brotherhood is neither as firm nor as definitive as that of his predecessor, and that he is leaning toward re-engagement with Qatar and Turkey… in other words, there is fear that Saudi support for Egypt will either decline or be part of a different political bundle…
Source: “Can Egyptians in Libya Endure al-Sisi’s Mistake?” al-Jazeera, 24 February 2015.
According to Egyptian media reports, armed groups in Libya kidnapped nearly 40 Egyptians in the few days following the bombing of Derna by the Egyptian military…