When the U.S. is In Sync With the Saudis, You Know Something is Wrong

In the war of words over Egypt, battle lines have been drawn as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates have spoken out in support of the Egyptian government's response to pro-Morsi protesters on Friday, while Turkey has condemned the violence. Meanwhile, the United States continues to quietly back the army in the form of continuing to supply military aid.

Essentially, the Saudis and Jordanians are openly doing what Washington is already doing in secret − backing the Egyptian military as it kills hundreds of its own citizens. After the military-backed removal of president Mohamed Morsi in July, the U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly against cutting off military aid to Egypt, as according to the Obama administration, it was not in their eyes a coup d'état and hence there was no obligation to put a moratorium on aid. In fact, Secretary of State John Kerry said the military's removal of Morsi was "restoring democracy" in Egypt.

Saudi Arabia, like the United States, supplies Egypt with military aid, and like the United States, isn't turning off the faucet anytime soon. King Abdullah strongly supports the Egyptian government, and pledged $5 billion in aid to Egypt after the ouster of Morsi. The Jordanian government also issued a statement in support of Egypt's crackdown and their counterparts in the UAE echoed Amman's statements. Like the Saudis, the Jordanians and the Emiratis are also among Washington's closest allies in the region. 

On the other hand, Turkey has come out strongly against Egypt, with President Abdullah Gül calling the military's actions "a shame for Islam and the Arab world." It shouldn't come as too much of a surprise, as the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has largely supported Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. Cairo responded by suspending a joint naval exercise with Turkey scheduled for the end of October, ironically named "Sea of Friendship." This came after both countries recalled their respective ambassadors due to Turkey's criticism.

Backed by Saudi and American dollars, the Egyptian government isn't going to relent anytime soon, especially since they have all the leverage. If Senator Rand Paul's (R-Ky.) bill had passed, and had the Obama administration had recognized the coup for what it was, the Egyptian military might not have reacted so heavy-handedly towards the protesters. Withholding $2 billion in aid is quite the trump card, and if the United States had done so, the Saudis probably wouldn't have been so quick to dispense more than double that in the days after Morsi's ouster.

Ultimately, the United States and its allies remain staunch supporters of the Egyptian military. Even during the early protests against former president Hosni Mubarak the United States backed Mubarak and the military before the tide turned against him. American influence isn't going away in Egypt anytime soon, so long as the military receives popular backing and remains a domineering influence on Egyptian society. 

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Frank Lopapa

Graduate of the John C. Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations, specializing in International Security and Global Negotiation and Conflict Management. Guest contributor to international affairs magazine Diplomatic Courier. When not writing about security issues for Policy Mic, I cover Italian soccer for Forza Italian Football, among other places.

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