Tuesday, July 23, 2013

New split in Muslim Ranks threatens unity over Syria issue

We are indebted to Conflicts Forum for pointing out this important story from Abdul Bari Atwan of Al Quds Al Arabi. Abdul Bari argues that because of Turkey's opposition to the military coup that removed Morsi in Egypt, we now have a rift between Turkey and Saudi Arabia that threatens Arab unity over Syria.

US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns has landed in Cairo, seeking a roadmap which will guarantee American interests in the Middle East, namely the continuation of Israel’s position of power in the region and the flow of oil to the West.
However, he will almost certainly return to Washington burdened with greater anxieties having seen first-hand the instability that has wracked Egypt since the military coup and which, rather than being contained, looks set to escalate and affect the entire region.
The Middle East’s ‘big three’ and its former points of stability, Iraq, Syria and Egypt, are experiencing worrying sectarian and political conflicts, constituting the greatest current threat against Israel, which had been the biggest beneficiary of the artificial stability created by corrupt Arab dictatorships.
Israel and the West consider the current state of chaos and instability to be Israel’s main enemy.  Israel’s military might easily defeat any Arab state, but it cannot overpower militant groups, which are not controllable by any state's security apparatus, which have nothing to lose and which may decide to turn their missiles against Tel Aviv.

The rich Gulf States have succeeded in using their financial power to keep the revolutions of the so-called Arab Spring outside their borders.
While Qatar supports the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Syria and Tunisia, other Gulf States, including the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia, are fighting it. In both cases conflicts has flared, and gradually morphed into sectarian civil wars in the three main Arab countries. What’s more, there is no guarantee that these civil wars can be kept away from parties who seek to add more fuel to the fire.
The military coup against the legitimately elected regime in Egypt received a warm welcome and was supported by $20 billion from the Gulf States of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait. It is worth noting that Qatar, which supports the Muslim Brotherhood-led opposition to military rule in Egypt, did not withdraw its deposits from the Central Bank of Egypt, which are estimated at $7 billion, and, like the other three countries, continued to supply Egypt with oil aid.
These four Gulf countries oppose and are actively supporting all efforts to topple the Syrian regime and have so far spent about $10 billion funding and arming the opposition.
Yet the Assad regime is the biggest winner to date, along with its allies in Iran, Lebanon and Russia.
Fuelling the conflict in Egypt, and supporting one side against another, has taken the spotlight away from the Syrian crisis, as the media incitement machine has now moved on to Egypt.
This drop in media momentum is a significant gift to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the holy month of Ramadan, as the media will need months or more to get back to its incitement campaign against the Syrian regime.
The other point to note is that the Syrian opposition front began to crack after the Egyptian military coup. In his affirmation of the legitimacy of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has found himself in opposition to his Saudi and Emirati allies, which changes all previous calculations in the region.
Prime Minister Erdogan has now thrown all his weight behind the Muslim Brotherhood, disturbing his new Saudi allies and leading the Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal to contact him a week ago, in the presence of Arab and Gulf foreign ministers, and call on him to change his position. The move prompted Erdogan to shout loudly in the face of the Saudi speaker: "How can your country claim to be ruled by Islamic law and to be supporting Islam and Muslims, and yet support the toppling of an Islamic president who was elected in fair and free elections."
The Egyptian revolution toppled Mubarak's corrupt dictatorship and almost changed the face of the region, but it was aborted at the last minute and stolen by a military coup.
The initial results of the chaos emanating from the Egyptian coup, and the intervention of the army in the political arena, may initially result in worsening stability.
However, current developments in the region could result in re-drawing the regional map, with the effect of weakening Israel.
It could also see the rise of a new pan-Arab alliace, based on the former Egyptian-Syrian-Iraqi triangle, which led the region to become a strong and stable civilisation for more than 8000 years.

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