The Rich Arabs' betrayal of Egypt

Khalid Amayreh , Tuesday 29 Jan 2013

With the exception of Qatar, oil-rich Arab states are watching rather indifferently as 90 million Egyptians reel under a harsh, unprecedented economic and financial crisis

The Egyptians, by nature, are a dignified and proud people who wouldn't beg for help. However, rich Arab states have a religious, moral, nationalist and human duty to extend a helping hand to their older sister, without whom their very existence, let alone their sovereignty and national dignity, would be dubious and precarious.

Egypt is not just another Arab country. Egypt is the heart and soul of Arab Umma (nation) without which Arab states, irrespective of their money-filled coffers, would be condemned to utter insignificance both at the regional and international levels.

Hence, helping Egypt stand up tall at its time of need is not a form of altruistic charity or self-abnegation on the part of rich Arabs.

Quite the contrary, it is an expression of utmost historical responsibility.

To be fair, most Arab Gulf countries, e.g. member-states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), extended a helping hand to Egypt on several occasions, and their brotherly assistance was highly appreciated.

But Egypt, especially these days, needs more than symbolic acts of solidarity from its rich Arab brethren. Egypt needs a real partnership, huge investments that would treat the causes of the problem. Egypt needs a real Arab Marshal plan that would enable her to stand tall on its own.

Needless, to say, when Egypt stands tall on its own, all Arabs and Muslims stand tall.

However, when Egypt, which never failed the Arabs whether in Palestine or Algeria or elsewhere, is languishing under abject poverty, the entire Arab world goes into depression and succumbs to helplessness. Therefore, an investment in Egypt 's present is an investment in the Arabs' future.

This is why rich Arab states are called upon to allocate at least a hundred billion dollars to help Egypt recuperate once and for all from its recurrent financial blues.

Needless to say, an investment in Egypt is an investment in the Arabs' future. It is a winning insurance policy for the entire Arab world in the 21st century.

Hence, failure to carry out our duty toward Egypt , or more correctly betraying the country of Gamal Abdel-Nasser and Saadeddin El-Shazli, would be a historical Nakba or disaster of untold proportions for the entire Arab Umma.Even the Palestinian Nakba would pale in comparison since the Arab world has been able to survive the loss of Palestine to Zionism whereas it would be difficult to imagine that the Arab world, as we have known it for decades, would survive the diminution of Egypt into a failed or hopelessly weak state.

Yes, the home of Al-Azhar may not be able to play the role of a regional superpower. Egypt may not be able at the moment to foil the morbid designs of regional and other distant predators, such as Israel and Iran.

But Egypt has a unique aura of its own. It can, and I'm sure it will, stand up on its feet and reclaim its historical status and past glory.

Yes, the matter goes far beyond sentimentality and emotions, although emotional attachment to Egypt has always defined the way we relate to Umm El-Donya (Mother of the World). How can one not relate to his mother without emotions?

Arab investors and governments may initially cringe at the current economic prospects in Egypt due to political instability and the heavy legacy of mismanagement and faulty economic policies inherited from bygone decades.

But Egypt, especially after the January 25 Revolution, is on its way to stem the tide of corruption and start a good, new beginning. This is already happening.

Egypt has a huge inventory of brainpower as well as the required factors and infrastructure for a robust economy.

Egypt can also become the industrial hub of the Arab world. It can absorb hundreds of billions of dollars that would otherwise be spent on non-essential consumer products imported from distant countries, some of which are visibly hostile to Arab aspirations and Islamic causes.

Egypt is still not the Japan or Hong Kong of the Arab world. However, with proper planning, financing, and some good hard work, Egypt can become the ultimate success story for a huge market extending from Casablanca to Bahrain.

But even if there were some risks in investing in the Egyptian economy, the Islamic religious dimension should be too important to be ignored.

In the final analysis, rich Arab states must look beyond tomorrow. Indeed, with their small populations, the wealth of these states is coveted by well-known regional predators.

True, the Gulf states do depend on the United States and NATO to repulse possible aggressors. However, this costly dependence (costly in terms of compromising their sovereignty and national will) can't be taken for granted forever. Hence the strategic necessity of building a striking Arab force that would deter potential predators and make them think twice before encroaching on Arab sovereignty and national dignity.

But who would ensure the success and effectiveness of such deterrent if not Egypt? I put this question to the kings and princes of the Arab Gulf states. That is unless these happy-go-lucky sheikhs think according to the adage: Feed me today and kill me tomorrow.

Unfortunately, we occasionally hear some Gulf officials offend and insult Egypt, especially in the aftermath of the revolution. (They were utterly silent and quite obsequious toward ex-president Mubarak during the defunct regime's era).

However, these are mostly ignorant people with self-inflated egos who can hardly see a few meters into the future. Some of these ignoramuses think their billions would shield them from the pitfalls of time. But we all know that if and when push came to shove, they would order a hasty reservation on the first passenger airplane en route to Rome or London or New York.

Today, most Gulf states view Iran as the ultimate bogyman threatening their sheikhdoms and emirates. Their fears are not phobic in nature or groundless. The Iranian posture vis-à-vis the Syrian revolution and events in Bahrain draws a huge question mark over Iranian intentions, especially the Persian Shia country's sectarian designs.

Iran harbors certain historical dreams of "territorial irredentism" at the expense of such Arab countries as Bahrain , UAE, as well as Iraq , Syria and Lebanon.

Indeed, the dark embrace between Tehran 's clerical regime and that of the genocidal Alawite dynasty refutes any Iranian claim of neutrality in Syria. Iran is too damn guilty and heavily involved in the slow-motion genocide in Syria to deserve the benefit of the doubt.

In this ominous context, the role of Egypt stands out as the ultimate Arab Sunni counterweight to Iran 's efforts to achieve strategic aggrandisement at our expense.

When will the leaders of the Arab Gulf understand this crucial equation?

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