Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz bombarded his visitor President Barack Obama, when they met at the royal desert residence outside Riyadh on Friday March 28, with chapter and verse to vindicate his implacable drive against the Muslim Brotherhood
The king pointed to his government’s overall effort to bring home the thousands of Saudis fighting with Islamist rebel groups in Syria, including Al Qaeda’s Jabhat Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). Abdullah offered facts and figures on the number of young Saudis heading for home from the Syrian battlefield and the figures absorbed in special training programs for their adjustment to normal civilian life.
He then turned to the US president, saying: See how hard we're fighting Saudi jihadism. “You need to put the same kind of effort into fighting the Muslim Brotherhood in the Middle East. They're just as dangerous.” (A separate item in this issue discusses Obama’s Riyadh visit.)
The US president made no comment on the king’s speech, which touched on one of the most sensitive nerves of his foreign policy: the Muslim Brotherhood, which is one of the main bones of contention between Washington and Riyadh.
The Obama administration firmly opposed the military coup which ousted the Muslim Brotherhood’s president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. It was led by Gen. Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, who is almost certain to win Egypt's presidential election next month, and is waging an uncompromising campaign to destroy the Muslim Brotherhood root and branch.
Washington objects strongly, maintaining that the Brothers are being pushed underground to set up networks for terrorism against the centers of authority in Cairo.
The US also has it in for Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates for funding El-Sisi’s crackdown out of fear that Brotherhood influence will percolate into the Arabian Peninsula. Both have declared the Brotherhood a greater menace than Al Qaeda.
The Obama administration equally contests the penalties Saudi Arabia and the UAE have leveled against Qatar for standing by the Muslim Brotherhood, although to a lesser extent than during the early years of the Arab Spring (2011-2012).
Thick Egyptian file of incriminating evidence against Moslem Brotherhood
But Obama chose not to be drawn on these issues by King Abdullah. He preferred not to add fuel to the flames of friction flickering them. But ignoring Obama’s non-response, the monarch kept going with his peroration. His volubility was fed by the knowledge of a thick file presented shortly before the US President’s Riyadh visit to his National Security Adviser Susan Rice and Director of US Intelligence John Brennan.
This file, DEBKA Weekly’s intelligence sources reveal, was signed by former general El-Sisi and compiled by Egyptian, Saudi and UAE clandestine agencies.
It covered materials obtained from interrogations of Egyptian and Gulf-based Muslim Brotherhood activists conducted from late 2013 up until the first three months of 2014, as well as copies of bank transfers, intercepted phone calls and email correspondence among Brotherhood activists in and outside Egypt.
The file was also forwarded to key European intelligence directors in Britain, Germany, France, Holland and Italy.
Our sources also disclose that the file’s contents provide evidence of an Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy not just to fight the military rulers in Cairo, but to muster all its assets worldwide, in such places as the US, Canada, West Europe and the Far East, for efforts to topple the Gulf emirates’ regimes as well.
Qatar involved up to its ears in Brotherhood intrigues
Documented in the file is the close rapport between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Qatari intelligence services, and the support Doha’s rulers, the House of Thani, rendered to Brotherhood plots against fellow-Arab regimes.
Our intelligence sources cite a current example of Qatari complicity. It is a complicated piece of intrigue involving Qatar, Turkey and the Brotherhood’s clandestine base in the Gaza Strip for subversive anti-Cairo operations.
Turkey’s municipal elections on March 30 gave Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's party a resounding 47 percent victory against the opposition’s 27 percent.
Qatari intelligence believes Erdogan and his foreign minister Ahmet Dovatoglu will no longer be constrained from restoring normal relations with Israel, a step that may entail secret agreements for greater Turkish involvement in the Gaza Strip and its radical Palestinian Hamas regime.
In the view of Qatari intelligence experts, the new situation will result in Ankara shutting down the Istanbul headquarters of Hamas's number-two operations chief, Salah al-Arouri.
From Turkey, al-Arouri was able to coordinate Hamas operations on the West Bank under the noses of the Palestinian Authority, and act as liaison hub for Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leaders who managed to escape Cairo and reach Gaza.
The Brotherhood’s head of its underground networks in Egypt also heads the Gaza headquarters.
Qatar offers Jordan’s king a big bribe to host Salah al-Arouri
To overcome the Turkish dilemma, Qatar offered Jordan's King Abdullah a half billion dollars if he permitted the immediate transfer of Salah al-Arouri's headquarters from Istanbul to Amman.
The king is delaying his reply to Doha and, according to our sources, will most likely turn the offer down.
But the high price Qatari rulers are willing to pay for the operational survival of the Hamas networks subservient to the Muslim Brotherhood is a measure of the undercurrents flowing around the Brotherhood and its Qatari backers.
The Obama administration has not responded to the El-Sisi file. However, DEBKA Weekly's intelligence sources note the British reaction. Prime Minister David Cameron this week ordered an inquiry into whether a high-profile Islamic organization, i.e. the Muslim Brotherhood, is using Britain as a staging ground for attacks in Egypt following the military crackdown on the group.
The Brotherhood “has risen to prominence in recent years but our understanding of the organization—its philosophy and values—has not kept pace with this,” a spokesperson for the British prime minister said.
“Given the concerns now being expressed about the group and its alleged links to violent extremism, it’s absolutely right and prudent that we get a better handle of what the Brotherhood stands for, how they intend to achieve their aims and what that means for Britain."
The Muslim Brotherhood file is clearly beginning to have an impact in Europe.