Lifeline for Cairo in political crisis

11 July 2013

Saudi Arabia and the UAE have pledged $8bn in grants and loans in support of the interim government

It looked like a coup. And felt like a coup. But for many Egyptians, the army’s removal of President Mohamed Mursi from office on 2 July was anything but a military coup. For them, the armed forces, led by General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi were simply carrying out the wishes of the vast majority of Egyptians, who felt that Mursi’s inept management of the country had betrayed the revolution.

An interim president is now installed, along with a prime minister and a timeline for transition. It is not just Egyptians who have welcomed the dramatic fall of the Muslim Brotherhood in their historic base.

Saudi Arabia, in particular, has made little secret of its distrust of the political movement and fear of its influence across the Middle East and North Africa. 

Riyadh was severely critical of the way the Mubarak-regime was allowed to fall in 2011, and still has tight connections with the Egyptian military. Al-Sisi in fact spent years in Riyadh as Mubarak’s military attache to the kingdom. Along with the UAE, Riyadh moved swiftly to promise as much as $8bn in loans and grants to prop up the interim government.

If Saudi Arabia and the UAE have their way, the Muslim Brotherhood would now simply disappear. This appears unlikely, however. How the group reacts following their ousting will be a major test. Political alienation or integration are the two options before them.

In Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, the past few weeks have been an unexpected boon. Along with the overthrow of Mursi, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, perhaps the region’s greatest antagonist over the past decade, is now winding down his term in Tehran. Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, Mursi’s main regional backer, has also handed over power to his son in Qatar.

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