Another Sunni Bloc Takes Shape, This One Centering on Saudi Arabia and Egypt

The unsuspected links and connections among the prime movers behind Egypt’s military putsch against the Muslim Brotherhood of Wednesday, July 3, are beginning to emerge from the shadows.
Revealed here by DEBKA Weekly, for instance, is an intriguing facet in the career of Adli Mansour, 67, the head of Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court, who was sworn in Thursday, July 4, as provisional president of Egypt.
For the past decade, it turns out, Judge Mansour served as a paid senior advisor to Saudi King Abdullah.
No one in Egypt knew this outside of top military and intelligence circles.
Egyptians are gaining an excellent judge, widely respected for his high integrity and known for his independent character. But they are also seating provisionally in deposed President Mohamed Morsi’s chair the man who performed liaison functions between the Saudi royals and their intelligence services, and Defense Minister Gen. Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, chief of Egypt's armed forces and leader of the putsch.
The provisional president’s main duty will be to amend the constitution enacted by the Moslem Brothers during their one-year rule and oversee early presidential and parliamentary elections. Both Gen. Al-Sisi and Riyadh will no doubt make sure that he erases all traces of the ousted rulers’ ambition to enact the framework for a state governed by Islamic law.

Saudi-UAE funds pledged to keep Egypt’s economy running

On Thursday July 4, debkafile was first out with the exclusive revelation of Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s indispensable assistance in the overthrow of the Morsi regime. We also revealed that Gen. El-Sisi received two pledges from his two backers.
1. If the Obama administration cuts off the annual US aid allocation of $1.3 billion, Saudi Arabia and the UAE would make up the military budget’s shortfall;
2. The Saudis, UAE and other Gulf nations, such as Bahrain and Kuwait, will immediately start pumping out substantial funds to keep the Egyptian economy running. The Egyptian masses will be shown that in a properly managed economy, they can be guaranteed a decent, minimal standard of living and need not go hungry as many did under Muslim Brotherhood rule.
According to our sources, the Saudis and the UAE pledged to match the funds Qatar transferred to the Muslim Brotherhood’s coffers in Cairo in the past year, amounting to the vast sum of $13 billion.
For the first time since early 2011, Saudi Arabia and the UAE managed to intervene directly to throw a spanner in the wheels of the US-sponsored Arab Revolt or Spring, after they failed to hold the tide back in Libya, Egypt and thus far in Syria.
And also for the first time, a group of traditionally pro-US conservative Arab governments has struck out on its own to fill the leadership vacuum left by the Obama administration’s unwillingness to pursue direct initiatives in the savage Syrian civil war or forcibly preempt Iran’s drive for a nuclear bomb.

What happens to future relations with Washington?

They aren’t done yet. They are planning to establish their own Sunni Muslim bloc, composed of Saudi Arabia, the Gulf emirates and Egypt, to replace Obama’s failed initiative for a Sunni alliance partnered by Qatar, Turkey and Muslim Brotherhood-led Egypt.
This group has demonstrated that popular revolutions can be clean and swift rather than mired endlessly in the blood and savagery of internecine strife like the civil wars bedeviling Libya and Syria.
The future of this bloc is as unclear as that of Egypt. Its authors meanwhile need to answer four important questions:
1. Does the prime movers astonishingly swift and effective action behind America’s back presage more steps independent of Washington?
Or will Saudi King Abdullah and Gen. El-Sisi, Egypt’s interim strongman pending the election of the next president, beat a path back to the door of the White House in DC?
This question is problematic, since never before have Riyadh and Cairo harbored so little trust in an American president as they do today. This antipathy between the US administration and Egypt’s generals was dramatized Thursday, July 4, when the day after the military takeover, the administration ordered all non-essential US diplomatic personnel to "immediately" evacuate Cairo.

For Saudis, getting rid of Assad comes before dealing with Iran

2. How far will the burgeoning Sunni bloc be ready to go to challenge Iran and its nuclear program?
The answer depends on its members’ willingness to shoulder the Saudi king’s prime objective of ousting Syrian President Bashar Assad.
DEBKA Weekly's Gulf sources say that whether or not to negotiate with Tehran can only be decided when the Syrian war is finished and out of the way.
3. How is the Syrian war affected by the change in Egypt?
Because of the rationale set out in 2., the Syria war is likely to expand in the coming months – and not just because the US and Russia can’t see eye to eye on how to set up an international conference for a political resolution. (See the reference to the Kerry-Lavrov meeting in a separate item).
The new turn of Egypt’s political wheel offers an outside chance that Cairo, which has held back from intervening in the Syrian conflict, may be drawn by Riyadh into backing the war against Bashar Assad.
The Saudis will not let the Syrian ruler get away with enjoying the fruits of the Egyptian putsch they aided.
Assad was indeed the first ruler to congratulate Egypt on its coup and hail it as a lesson for political Islam that its aspirations to take over the whole Middle East had come to the end of the road.
4. Will the new Sunni bloc come to terms with Israel?
The moribund Sunni axis which the US fostered with Turkey and Qatar was open to military, diplomatic and intelligence cooperation with Israel. Will the Saudi-led bloc take this route? It is too soon to say.

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