Sunday, 1. May 2011 17:13
Abdelbari Atwan, the editor of al-Quds al-Arabi, says the Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf was looking for investments not direct aid handouts during his Gulf tour last week. But while he was received in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar, the door was slammed in his face when it came to the UAE: “He was told politely that officials were busy with prior engagements, which in diplomatic and undiplomatic parlance means a veiled rejection”. (Of course, I liked this reference:اندرو هاموند، مراسل وكالة أنباء ‘رويترز’ في منطقة الخليج أماط اللثام عن الموقف الخليجي من ثورة مصر في تقرير إخباري بثته وكالته يوم أمس الأول ونقل فيه شعور أحد مساعدي الشيخ محمد بن زايد ولي عهد أبوظبي، والرجل الأقوى فيها بخيبة الأمل لسقوط نظام الرئيس حسني مبارك، وقوله، أي المسؤول الاماراتي نفسه ‘كيف يفعلون هذا به.. كان الأب الروحي للشرق الأوسط.. كان رجلا حكيما قاد المنطقة دوما.. نعم الشعب يريد الديمقراطية ولكن ليس بهذه الطريقة.. هذا أمر مهين’.) Yup, anger over Egypt’s attempt to have an independent foreign policy is visceral and the Gulf countries have proven incapable of preventing the prosecution of Mubarak, his family and the gang of hangers-on who steadily ruined Egypt over three sad decades. Atwan thinks that, one, Sharaf didn’t go “begging” and, two, he didn’t appear to get anything anyway. Since the old/new colonial powers often come looking to cash in chips for services rendered – remember the investments British PM Gordon Brown got out of Qatar in 2008 - Atwan asks فلماذا لا يفعل رئيس وزراء مصر، الشقيقة الكبرى، الشيء نفسه؟ – Why shouldn’t Egypt do the same? The Gulf countries are not so united on Iran and other issues as the image they present through the GCC suggests. Qatar and Oman maintain their own independent ties with Iran. Mubarak made Egypt-Gulf relations a one-way street but even if the Gulf has the resources, now the fact is it’s Saudi Arabia et al. who are worried about Egypt, not the other way round. Saudi Arabia’s cordon sanitaire in Arab media is, for a start, under threat now that Egypt has broken the shackles of Mubarak rule. And even if Al-Jazeera/Qatar is helping Saudi Arabia circle the wagons by ignoring the repression in Bahrain, it doesn’t share the distaste for the new Egypt that it would like to think its gung-ho coverage helped create.