Yes they have no bananas 2

Out of quite a pile of  biopsies of the Egyptian mess, we choose this one to bring to the attention of our reliably skeptical and well-informed readers. We don’t know if it’s the best, or even if it’s entirely right; but some of it fits with what we do know (eg the poverty of Egypt), we share quite a few of the author’s opinions, and we are amused by some of the writing.

Spengler writes in the Asia Times that Egypt is a banana republic without the bananas:

The vicious crosswind ripping through Egyptian politics comes from the great Sunni-Shi’ite civil war now enveloping the Muslim world from the Hindu Kush to the Mediterranean.

It took just two days for the interim government installed last week by Egypt’s military to announce that Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States would provide emergency financing for the bankrupt Egyptian state. Egypt may not yet have a prime minister, but it does not really need a prime minister. It has a finance minister, though, and it badly needs a finance minister, especially one with a Rolodex in Riyadh. …

Finance Minister Fayyad Abdel Moneim … spoke of contacts with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Kuwait for urgent aid … Defense Minister Abdel Fatah al-Sisi phoned Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdel Aziz and UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nuhayyan yesterday on the latest developments in Egypt. King Abdullah was the first Arab and foreign leader to congratulate interim president Adly Mansour after his swearing-in ceremony.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s central bank governor, Hisham Ramez, was on a plane to Abu Dhabi July 7  “to drum up badly need financial support”, the Financial Times reported.  The Saudis and the UAE had pledged, but not provided, US$8 billion in loans to Egypt, because the Saudi monarchy hates and fears the Muslim Brotherhood as its would-be grave-digger. With the brothers out of power, things might be different. …

Egypt might now get its $8billion, or even more; but for how long will those oil-rich Arab states be willing to keep Egypt fed? There is no immediate or even distant prospect of Egypt’s economy improving.

Media accounts ignored the big picture, and focused instead on the irrelevant figure of Mohamed al-Baradei, the Nobel Peace Prize winner whose appointment as prime minister in the interim government was first announced and then withdrawn on Saturday.

It doesn’t matter who sits in the Presidential Palace if the country runs out of bread. Tiny Qatar had already expended a third of its foreign exchange reserves during the past year in loans to Egypt, which may explain why the eccentric emir was replaced in late June by his son. Only Saudi Arabia with its $630 billion of cash reserves has the wherewithal to bridge Egypt’s $20 billion a year cash gap. With the country’s energy supplies nearly exhausted and just two months’ supply of imported wheat on hand, the victor in Cairo will be the Saudi party. …

The Saudis have another reason to get involved in Egypt, and that is the situation in Syria. Saudi Arabia’s intervention in the Syrian civil war, now guided by Prince Bandar, the new chief of Saudi Intelligence, has a double problem. The KSA [Kingdom of Saudi Arabia] wants to prevent Iran from turning Syria into a satrapy and fire base, but fears that the Sunni jihadists to whom it is sending anti-aircraft missiles eventually might turn against the [Saudi] monarchy. The same sort of blowback afflicted the kingdom after the 1980s Afghan war, in the person of Osama bin Laden. Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been fighting for influence among Syria’s Sunni rebels … Cutting off the Muslim Brotherhood at the knees in Egypt will help the KSA limit potential blowback in Syria.

There wasn’t before, there is not now, and there will not be in the future such a thing as democracy in Egypt.

The now-humiliated Muslim Brotherhood is a Nazi-inspired totalitarian party carrying a crescent in place of a swastika. If Mohamed Morsi had remained in power, he would have turned Egypt into a North Korea on the Nile, a starvation state in which the ruling party rewards the quiescent with a few more calories.

The head of Egypt’s armed forces, Field Marshal Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi, is not a democrat, but a dedicated Islamist.

The question is not whether Islamism, but whose. Some Saudi commentators claim al-Sisi as their Islamist. ..

[But] none of this matters. The will of a people that cannot feed itself has little weight. Egypt is a banana republic without the bananas.

Whether Egypt slides into chaos or regains temporary stability under the military depends on what happens in the royal palace at Riyadh, not in Tahrir Square. It appears that the Saudis have embraced the military-backed government, whoever it turns out to include.

It is conceivable that the Saudis vetoed the ascension of al-Baradei, hilariously described as a “liberal” in the major media. Al-Baradei is a slippery and unprincipled operator who did great damage to Western interests.

As head of the International Atomic Energy Agency until 2009, the Egyptian diplomat repeatedly intervened to distort his own inspectors’ reports about the progress of Iran’s nuclear program. In effect, he acted as an Iranian agent of influence.

Obvious Peace Prize material, Mr al-Baradei.

The Saudis have more to fear from Iran than anyone else. Iran … is trying to subvert the Saudi regime through the Shi’ite minority in Eastern Province. If Riyadh did not blackball his [el-Baradei’s] nomination as prime minister, it should have.

There isn’t going to be a war with Israel, as some commentators have offered. Israel is at worst a bystander and at best a de facto ally of the Saudis. The Saudi Wahabists hate Israel, to be sure, and would be happy if the Jewish State and all its inhabitants vanished tomorrow. But Israel presents no threat at all to Riyadh, while Iran represents an existential threat.

The Saudis, we know from WikiLeaks

Have you noticed how much useful information WikiLeaks has given the world? How often a WikiLeak is quoted in news reports and opinion columns?

 …  begged the United States to attack Iran, or to let Israel do so. The Egyptian military has no interest in losing another war with the Jewish state. It may not have enough diesel fuel to drive a division of tanks to the border.

The Saudi regime, to be sure, sponsors any number of extremist malefactors through its network of Wahabist mosques and madrassas. But the present Saudi intervention in Egypt … is far more consistent with American strategic interests than the sentimental meanderings of the Barack Obama administration, or the fetishism of parliamentary form that afflicts the Republican establishment. The Saudi regime is an abomination by American standards, but the monarchy is a rational actor. …

The United States has less influence in the region than at any time since World War II, due to gross incompetence of the Obama administration as well as the Republican establishment. The Obama administration as well as Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham courted the Muslim Brotherhood as a prospective vehicle for Muslim democracy, ignoring the catastrophic failure of the Egyptian economy as well as the totalitarian character of the Brotherhood.

We think there are ample indications that Obama likes the Muslim Brotherhood for precisely what it is. Its advance into positions of influence in the US government under the Obama administration seems to us one of the strongest signs that he positively favors it.

Americans instinctively ask about any problem overseas, “Who are the good guys?” When told that there are no good guys, they go to see a different movie.

There are no good guys in Egypt, except perhaps for the hapless democracy activists who draw on no social constituency and wield no power, and the endangered Coptic Christian minority. There are only forces that coincide with American interests for reasons of their own. It is a gauge of American foreign policy incompetence that the medieval Saudi monarchy is a better guardian of American interests in Egypt for the time being than the United States itself.

  • liz

    That one of our worst enemies – the Saudis – would be “a better guardian of American interests in Egypt” truly shows not only the incompetence, but the complete abdication of power to our enemies by this president and his administration.
    The “advance into positions of influence” of the Muslim Brotherhood under Obama’s watch is a replay of the infiltration of FDR’s administration by Communist spy’s and “agents of influence”, and as pointed out by David Horowitz in “Unholy Alliance”, the whole alliance of Leftists with the fascist Brotherhood is a replay of the Soviet/Nazi pact.
    Just as in Egypt “the question is not whether Islamism, but who’s”, it seems the question for the U.S. is not “whether” Leftist/Islamo/Fascist, but who’s, as well.

  • rogerinflorida

    This was my comment in response to Spengler:

    “Only the KSA has the resources to bale out Egypt”. OK, but for how long? Is Egypt going to be back on it’s feet next year? Of course not, the trajectory for Egypt is down with not a hint of improvement in any aspect of their society. So will KSA bale them out for 5 years? That is at least $100bn down the toilet, it seems to me based on my experience of Saudis in London that such a sum would seriously cut into their prostitute, drugs, booze and gambling budgets, not to mention their political subversion of US and European politicians and the budget for worldwide Islamic proselytizing. The only country I see with an urgent interest in Egyptian stability is Israel. From their POV the situation in the ME is catastrophic, potentially they have many millions of starving Arabs on their immediate borders begging for help.
    It will be very interesting to observe as Europe becomes increasingly Islamic how it will come to resemble Egypt of today.

    Daniel Greenfield has an article up which is also worth reading:
    http://sultanknish.blogspot.com/2013/07/good-news-from-egyptland.html