Saudi Arabia re-emerges as powerful Middle East player

Saudi Arabia has re-emerged as the Middle East’s most powerful influence-peddler, with its presence being felt in both Egypt and Syria, says Richard Spencer.

It may be the least revolutionary country in the world, but this week Saudi Arabia won the full support of the world’s greatest insurrectionists.

Sayed Sami Hassan has been in Cairo’s Tahrir Square since January 25, 2011, and in that time has seen off an American-backed dictator, a military junta, and an elected Muslim Brotherhood president. He is the sort of street rebel whom, at home, Saudi Arabia’s autocracy most fears.

But this week he gave the absolute monarchs from across the Red Sea his absolute backing. “The Saudis are our brothers,” he said, from his tent in Tahrir’s continuous encampment.

“They are Muslims, they believe in God. President Morsi, now he was an agent of America and Qatar, but the Saudis are helping us.”

The shifts of allegiance in the Middle East in the last three years have been as startling as the convulsions of the Arab Spring itself. But the latest has caught diplomats, analysts and, to the extent they notice the relationships their masters quietly foster, Egypt’s ordinary people by surprise.

Saudi Arabia, not long ago written off as a gerontocracy whose oil billions could not prevent it being outmanoeuvred by a host of rivals in the power struggles of the Middle East, has suddenly re-emerged as the region’s most powerful influence-peddler.

It announced its backing for the military’s swift disposal of President Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government within two hours.

Then on Tuesday it opened its wallet, offering $5 billion in aid. Saudi Arabia’s neighbour and ally, the United Arab Emirates, added $3 billion more, while Kuwait offered $4 billion. In his year in office, Mr Morsi’s government was bailed out to the tune of $8 billion by Qatar – but its Gulf neighbours had beaten that easily in just a week.

There is no evidence that Saudi Arabia was involved in the plot, well-executed and clearly planned in advance though it was.

Full article: Saudi Arabia re-emerges as powerful Middle East player (The Telegraph)

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