General El-Sisi may have found the solution to Egypt's economic woes. It is called war.
During the weeks up to the coup, General El-Sisi had much to consider. With his access to the presidential palace and the trust of the Muslim Brotherhood, the general would have known the well-kept secret that Egypt was facing in a few short months a currency collapse and a famine that would very likely throw the country into a bloody revolution that his soldiers would be forced to quell.
Throughout the growing crisis, the Brotherhood offered no solid plan to revive the economy. Sixty billion dollars had been sent offshore for safety and nothing being done would lure any of it back. Qatar, Libya, and Turkey had contributed twelve billion dollars, but Egypt would require a billion dollars per month to remain solvent and there was no sign that would be forthcoming.
Something had to be done quickly and whatever was to be done would require the agreement of General El-Sisi. He was the Minister of Defense and the commander of the half million strong Egyptian military. He was the most powerful man in Egypt.
Regardless, a coup would not solve the economic stresses. Egypt needed a benefactor with a full purse and a willingness to spend. Only one country fitted that picture, Saudi Arabia; and the king has reason to favor the Egyptian general.
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia had watched Mubarak removed from office and replaced by Mohammed Morsi. He had seen the Muslim Brotherhood grow from a problem to a threat. The Brotherhood was not only active in Egypt. It was involved in Tunisia, competed with the forces supported by the Saudis in Syria, and had been seeking to overthrow the King of Jordan. The Saudi king had proposed that the Gulf Cooperation Council be expanded to include Jordan and Morocco in an alliance of the monarchies in an effort to blunt the spread of the Arab Spring and the Muslim Brotherhood.
One of General El-Sisi's many admirers might go so far as to say that he had been chosen by a Divine Hand to save Egypt. The general had been based at the Egyptian Embassy in Saudi Arabia and knew many of the leaders of the Kingdom who could provide the desperately needed funds that would make a coup possible. On the other hand, the Saudis had found the one man who could break the Muslim Brotherhood after which they would be free to focus on the destruction of their other enemy, Iran and the Shia.
There is nothing new in the objective. It is the continuation of a war that the Saudis have been pursuing for four decades that dates back to the reign of the Shah. Saudi Arabia had manipulated the oil price on several occasions in order to inflict economic damage upon the Iranians.
Beyond the economic arena, they have battled each other through proxies in Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq, and currently in Syria. In spite of all of those efforts, the Saudis are still confronting their traditional foe and seeing Iran a more dangerous rival than ever before with the Shia control of Iraq and through the growth of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's asymmetric warfare skills, and penetration by Al-Qud of the Shia communities throughout the Middle East.
Seven hundred billion dollars in foreign reserves gives the impression of an economic powerhouse, but the Saudi future is dire. A twenty-five percent unemployment rate among the youth and little prospect for improvement present a potential source of social unrest. After depending upon the strength of the United States for seventy years, their American protector is no longer a reliable ally. Looming in the not too distant future, new technological improvements are increase quantities of recoverable oil that will force down world prices, unless Saudi Arabia can restrict Middle Eastern supplies to compensate for the increased worldwide production
King Abdullah called for the beheading of the Iranian snake in the midst of the Arab Spring and heightened conflict with Iran. He would have liked to have seen the U.S. accomplish it before Iran developed nuclear weapons, but it did not happened and appears that it never will happen. If the kingdom is going to become the dominant power in the region that will give it control over the flow and cost of oil, it must do so before Iran acquires nuclear weapons and before the American shield is withdrawn. The current willingness by the Iranians to negotiate a settlement over the nuclear program is treated in Riyadh as diplomatic theatrics intended to deceive an eagerly to be deceived United States.
The Saudi outburst at the United Nations when the Kingdom refused to take its Security Council seat that it had struggled to acquire was a tactic and not a tantrum. The Saudis were sending the message that the unsolved problems that have been long festering in the region would have to be resolved. If the others would not act, then Saudi Arabia would deal with the issues without the aid of the retreating United States or the impotent UN. What they were saying was that they are being forced to do whatever they are going to do; and their actions would come in many forms.
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