Israel's deals with the Gulf are a disaster for Egypt

Cabatli_53

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Cairo is losing both status and hard cash in the wake of US-brokered normalisation agreements, and the poorest are being forced to pay
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan attend a ceremony in Abu Dhabi on 14 November 2019 (AFP)
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When the UAE and Bahrain officially normalised relations with Israel on 15 September, US President Donald Trump hailed "the dawn of a new Middle East".
Egypt is today waking up to what this new era spells for it. There are two types of disaster for Egypt contained in the implicit bid of the UAE to become Israel's main Arab trading partner - both prospective and immediate disasters.
Overnight, Sisi's canal will be undercut by a cheaper means of getting oil from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean
To start with the long-term peril first, a desert oil pipeline that was once operated as a secret joint venture between the Shah's Iran and Israel could play a big role in connecting the Arab pipeline grid to the Mediterranean. The 254-kilometre Europe Asia Pipeline Company's pipeline system runs from the Red Sea to the Israeli port of Ashkelon.

Along with the pipeline, Dubai's state-owned DP World is partnering with Israel's DoverTower to develop Israeli ports and free zones, and to open a direct shipping line between the Red Sea port of Eilat and Dubai's Jebel Ali port.

Neither the pipeline nor the port link-up is good news for the Suez Canal, which Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi just spent $8bn widening. That includes the money he forced Egyptian businessmen and ordinary shareholders to put into the doomed project. Overnight, Sisi's canal will be undercut by a cheaper means of getting oil from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean.

There are other, more immediate perils for his regime. With the normalisation deal, Cairo loses the role it enjoyed for decades of mediating relations between Arab states and Israel. With that came ownership of the so-called Palestinian card as Egypt was the reference point for all Palestinian factions - arranging ceasefires between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, or reconciliation meetings between Fatah and Hamas in Cairo. It is significant that the latest attempt to reconcile Fatah and Hamas took place in Ankara not Cairo.

For commentators such as Mohamed Ismat, writing in Shorouk News, the loss of Egypt's status goes even further: "The entire Arab national security system, with all its military, political and economic dimensions, will be utterly dismantled. All Arab world rhetoric about freedom, unity and independent development will be ossified and stored in warehouses," he writes.

"Throughout the years of confrontation with Israel, Egypt played the main role in determining the Arab reactions despite its disagreements with this or that Arab state. However, this situation will not continue. Israel aspires to replace Egypt and lead the Arab region according to new equations that will bring down all the institutions of common Arab action, foremost among them the Arab League itself."

Game changer
Along with status, Egypt is losing hard cash. Both Saudi Arabia and the UAE have stopped funding Sisi's military dictatorship, into which they had poured billions of dollars. Saudi Arabia has stopped funds and oil going to Egypt because of its balance-of-payments crisis, and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed has found more inviting baubles to play with. Pouring money into the bottomless pit of Sisi's pockets must seem so much like yesterday.
Of particular interest to Israel is the Mubadala Investment Company in Abu Dhabi, one of the UAE's sovereign wealth funds worth $230bn. One Israeli academic who has spent time in Abu Dhabi called this fund a "game changer" for Israeli high tech.

But the prospect of Emirati investment switching from Egypt to Israel is already changing the game for some businessmen in Cairo. Salah Diab, the founder of Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper, has been arrested before for the alleged violations of companies he owns. But his latest arrest was different: Diab is being held in jail pending further investigation, and there is every indication that prosecutors have been instructed to keep him there.
It has not been lost on Abu Dhabi that Diab is the maternal uncle of Yousef al-Otaiba, the Emirati ambassador who played a key role in pre-announcing the normalisation deal.

The last time Diab was arrested in 2015, Otaiba intervened and his uncle was soon released. Sisi is not listening this time. Showing that Diab's legal problems are more serious this time, the text of the tape of an alleged dinner conversation between Diab and one-time presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq was released on a social media site that bears the name of another former high-ranking general, Sami Anan. Anan was released on house arrest last December after serving two years of a nine-year prison sentence.
Both Shafiq and Anan fell foul of Sisi, the former being forced to withdraw as a candidate in the 2018 election and the latter serving a two-year prison sentence.

Legal problems
On the tape Shafiq, a former airforce pilot, is contemptuous of Sisi, whom he describes as "a naive army officer, one in charge of an infantry... he never learned how to deal cleanly".

Diab replies, laughing: "You are also an army officer, Mr Lieutenant General... You certainly understand him." Shafiq then says: "There is a difference... of course, and you know, Mr Salah, not all those in the army are the same."
Supporters of then-presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq demonstrate on the outskirts of Cairo in 2012 (AFP)

Supporters of then-presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq demonstrate on the outskirts of Cairo in 2012 (AFP)
Now, Diab is in prison and Shafiq has a legal action against him reactivated, contrary to the agreement Egypt made with the UAE, where Shafiq fled when former president Mohamed Morsi took over in 2012. For exiled Egyptian politicians who keep a close eye on battles back home, there is no doubt at which Gulf state Diab's and Shafiq's legal problems are aimed.

Ayman Nour, leader of the Ghad El-Thawra Party and a former presidential candidate, said the arrest of Diab "reflects the state of disagreement between Egypt and the UAE after normalisation [with Israel]".

Middle East Eye has learned that another Emirati businessman who was trying to set up a media company in Cairo was detained by Egyptian authorities, and only released after the personal intervention of Tahnoun bin Zayed, Mohammed bin Zayed's brother.

Forcing the poor to pay
The loss of Gulf billions has hit Sisi hard. He has already gone to the International Monetary Fund, instituted austerity, and shaken down his richest businessmen. He is now left with no other choice but to tax his citizens. Being the man he is, he is making Egypt's poorest pay first. Egypt's national debt has nearly tripled since 2014, from about $112bn to about $321bn.

In Asyut governorate, 67 percent of inhabitants live under the poverty line of 736 Egyptian pounds ($47) a month. As economist Mamdouh al-Wali explains, that figure is unrealistic considering the soaring costs of living, and the real poverty rate is surely higher.
This figure was from the fiscal year 2017-18, at which time the poverty rate in the southern Sohag governorate reached 60 percent, while in Luxor and Minya it reached 55 percent. Officials have admitted that the figures were modified twice, Wali says, amid government concerns over revealing the true scale of poverty.
It's little wonder, then, that these villages have seen an unprecedented, but as yet peaceful, series of anti-government protests. People simply could not take any more
Despite the hardships in these provinces, Sisi ploughed on, raising prices for electricity, drinking water, natural gas and public transport.
Another lucrative ploy: demolishing houses with no planning permission - in some cases, family homes that have stood for decades. Owners can avoid demolition if they pay the government a fee of 50 Egyptian pounds per square metre for residential homes in rural areas; in other areas, the fee for commercial buildings rises to 180 Egyptian pounds per square metre.

The downturn has led to a halt in construction, with many workers who seek day labour forced to stay at home. Public transport has also become increasingly less accessible. On trains, the most frequently used method of transport between Upper and Lower Egypt, for example, passengers have seen fares of freight transport raised to between 12 and 140 Egyptian pounds per box, depending on the weight and the distance travelled by the train.

Waves of protest
It's little wonder, then, that these villages have seen an unprecedented, but as yet peaceful, series of anti-government protests. People simply could not take any more.
When exiled whistleblower Mohamed Ali urged Sisi's opponents in the country to take part in a "day of rage" to demand the president's departure, he himself was surprised at what happened: six days of protest in more than 40 villages, despite a heavy security clampdown.

Ali's message was simple. A president who boasts about the number of palaces he had built for himself (with Ali's help) will not even let the poor live in their houses without threatening to demolish them.
Egypt's new protesters are - as yet - quite unlike the revolutionaries of 2011. They have no leader and no political slogans. They are conservative and religious, but not organised by the Muslim Brotherhood. The brave revolutionaries of 2011 came from the city and largely, but not wholly, the upper middle class. Many had degrees.
Today's protesters come from the ranks of the uneducated and poor, and many are younger than the 2011 wave. As Abdul Rahman Yusuf, the son of Sheikh Qaradawi, the Muslim Brotherhood cleric in Qatar who is himself a secular liberal, wrote: "The regime is facing an enraged citizenry that does not see it as legitimate. This is a direct confrontation. There's hardly anyone negotiating on behalf of these simple commoners who are defending themselves against a herd of rabid hyenas."

'I'm going to die anyway'
Of the many interviews with villagers, one is particularly poignant. Nafisa Atiya Mohammed, who lives in a shack threatened with demolition, says: "Here you go, you can see the exposed ceiling beams. I can't find anyone who can help me cover it with plastic sheets in the area. I sell scraps for one, five, 10 pounds until I get dizzy from the heat."

Asked how much money authorities have requested, she responds: "They said 1,000, then over two to four years, 4,000. Where will I get it from?" She does not have anyone who could lend her enough money to allow her to remain in the house, the report notes.

"I was going around yesterday, going from home to home, looking for someone to lend me money... I have a pension, but I swear to God it's not enough," Mohammed says. "Water is 150 and electricity is 550 a month. The receipts are inside, you can see. They can go and take my home. I'm going to die anyway. I’ll just leave it for them." The interview ends with the journalist breaking down in tears.
Egyptian security forces have intensified their presence in major squares in the capital (File/AFP)

Egyptian security forces have intensified their presence in major squares in the capital (File/AFP)
Sisi cannot afford to let this protest spread. Egypt will only take so much mismanagement and corruption, and the point is fast arriving when popular anger will be turned on the regime itself. Many of these villagers are, by tradition, armed - and they will act on tribal codes of revenge if fired on by the army or police. So far, their protests have been peaceful.

This brutal, callous and ruinous military regime was installed by the Emirati and Saudi royal families. Sisi would not have broken ranks and betrayed the president, Morsi, who picked him as defence minister, had it not been for the cash Riyadh and Abu Dhabi promised him.
If they lose Sisi and Egypt as a whole, their plans for regional domination will soon crumble. Then, the region would indeed have reached a turning point - but not the one that either Mohammed bin Zayed nor Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been planning.

 

Oublious

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Sisi is not taxing his people but stealing ther money, even the people who cheered the coupe :D (y) . What i understand ther is something with some kind housing program for every Egyptian. He taxes your home, if you pay it your house stays. No money they demolish your house, no fancy toys anymore for Sisi....:cool:
 

Sinan

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Question is, is he right or wrong. Look at the vid, and tell your opinon, plz.
Yeah, he is wrong. I just need to listen to his first 3 sentences. And i listened to his previous videos, he reeks of ignorance, has near to zero history knowledge, know nothing about stratehy or international relationships. He forms his opinion from what he reads from newspapers and magazines.

And he has no education or proficiency on these issues. He is a research assistant in a no named university, on electrics major. He just does this make money on youtube.

Instead of showing this idiot's videos, you can present your view on a subject and we can discuss on that subject, no need for this nobody's videos.
 

Yoyo

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Thats why Sisi turns slowly to Turkey.
If he turns to Turkey because of money, he can also turn away from Turkey because of money. Doesn't sound like a very reliable ally at all.
But... if he does mend ties with us, we should definitely take advantage of the moment. Get Egypt to come to an understanding over maritime delimitation, and sign an EEZ agreement and get it certified at the UN like we did with Libya.

Egypt-Turkey alliance, if it sticks, will also spell the end of the East-Med Pipeline project spearheaded by Israel and Greece. They will have to sell their gas to Europe via Turkey and we'll cut Egypt in on the deal.
 

BordoEnes

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Yeah, he is wrong. I just need to listen to his first 3 sentences. And i listened to his previous videos, he reeks of ignorance, has near to zero history knowledge, know nothing about stratehy or international relationships. He forms his opinion from what he reads from newspapers and magazines.

And he has no education or proficiency on these issues. He is a research assistant in a no named university, on electrics major. He just does this make money on youtube.

Instead of showing this idiot's videos, you can present your view on a subject and we can discuss on that subject, no need for this nobody's videos.

Truth is that why i tend to avoid most Turkish videos or Youtubers for this exact reason. More often then not these are just nobodies that tries to their darnest to turn everything into a six dimensional geopolitical chess game, which rarely reflect the actual reality of the situation. They serve as an extention of Turkish news, which is filled with sensational N.Korea-esque glorification of everything Turkish so that the average chump floks to his videos. I get that we have a very nationalistic people but objectivity is neccesary at times, not to mention credible sources.
 

Yoyo

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Another coup might take place in Egypt, that is my personal opinion.
Turkey needs to learn to back the "winner" in Egypt. If that's Sisi and circumstances dictate to us to work with him, than that's what we need to do. If it's someone else, that's even merrier. Whatever the case, we need to stop spending so much money, time and effort to try to change the "realities" in Egypt. We're not that powerful of a nation yet. Sometimes national interests dictate working with the players you don't like.
 

Saithan

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It’s easier in Egypt, whoever signs EEZ with us gets in our good grace :)

if a coup happens then LNA can’t count on Egypt anymore.
 

Sinan

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Turkey needs to learn to back the "winner" in Egypt.
For 80 years, Turkey didn't backed any side when in comes to other countries domestic affairs. Because when the faction you support lose you fail big time. This is the way for middle scale countries.

AKP changed this, began to back factions within countries when those factions failed, Turkey's interests failed big time. For the first time in history Turkey began sectarian politics in the region, That failed big time too.

What Turkey needs to do, is reverting back to republican values:
- Not interfering other countries domestic affairs
- Dropping sectarian politics.
- Developing good relations with other regional countries based on mutual interests.
 

Zafer

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For 80 years, Turkey didn't backed any side when in comes to other countries domestic affairs. Because when the faction you support lose you fail big time. This is the way for middle scale countries.

AKP changed this, began to back factions within countries when those factions failed, Turkey's interests failed big time. For the first time in history Turkey began sectarian politics in the region, That failed big time too.

What Turkey needs to do, is reverting back to republican values:
- Not interfering other countries domestic affairs
- Dropping sectarian politics.
- Developing good relations with other regional countries based on mutual interests.

The Turkey you are prescribing is a thanksgiving turkey well done. A passivist, loser Turkey that accepted defeat. A nation that doesn't have a say for the things going on around it. A nation that will let invaders have their way with Turkey's backyard. Scrapping the heritage of great nation that stabilized its region for centuries. That Turkey is long gone. We are making Turkey great again.
 

Yoyo

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For 80 years, Turkey didn't backed any side when in comes to other countries domestic affairs. Because when the faction you support lose you fail big time. This is the way for middle scale countries.

AKP changed this, began to back factions within countries when those factions failed, Turkey's interests failed big time. For the first time in history Turkey began sectarian politics in the region, That failed big time too.

What Turkey needs to do, is reverting back to republican values:
- Not interfering other countries domestic affairs
- Dropping sectarian politics.
- Developing good relations with other regional countries based on mutual interests.
When other countries like USA, France, Russia, etc from half way around the world come to our region and start meddling in the internal affairs of our neighbors, AND OUR OWN, we have to respond in kind.

Before AKP, Turkey backed the US/Israeli projects in the region at the expense of our own national interests. The reason we're having problems with the US is because we stopped doing that for the most part. Did AKP not make any mistakes? Of course they did. LOTS OF MISTAKES! Some are ongoing even today. But no country is perfect. US does lots of mistakes too (Vietnam, Afghanistan, etc). But they don't care and neither should we. When one strategy doesn't work, you learn from your mistakes, adopt to the new circumstances and then apply a different strategy.

In the end what matters is national interests. Some of our allies **cough cough** need to understand that Turkey isn't their slap bitch anymore. That there's a cost to fucking with Turks. When they support the PKK/YPG, for example, Turkey has to interfere beyond its borders in Syria & Iraq in order to secure its mainland.

When they interfere in Libya to overthrow the UN-recognized government so that they can get them on board with their East Med projects, Turkey had to intervene to protect its interests.

This is what sovereign nations do. They look after for themselves.
 
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