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The new Egyptian government

Giancarlo Elia Valori

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Within an Islamic and non-Islamic context, dangerous for his Egypt, President Ahmed Fattah Al Sisi appointed ten new Ministers in the national government and also created some new Ministries. The government reshuffle, not foreseen even by the insiders of the Egyptian regime, took place on March 23 and regarded people and roles certainly not irrelevant in any government.

Undoubtedly the aim of the government renewal is the need to better tackle the economic crisis and its political consequences, which could undermine the stability of Al Sisi’s post-Nasser regime and, above all, its effectiveness in repressing the Islamist insurgency in the Sinai region, as well as its effectiveness in the internal struggle against the Muslim Brotherhood.

Let us analyze the professional and political biographies of the newly-appointed Ministers. The new Justice Minister is judge Hossam Abdel Rehim, appointed just after his predecessor’s unfortunate statement that he would have put in jail even Prophet Muhammad if he had broken the law.

Hossam Rehim was the President of the Egyptian Supreme Court of Cassation and the Supreme Legislative Council, a body which oversees the internal administrative matters of ordinary justice.

Any appointment in this body lasts four years and is not renewable.

Amr al Garthy is the new Finance Minister, replacing Hany Kadry Dimian, who had been appointed to that post before Al Sisi’s Presidency.

While preserving the small and insufficient Egyptian growth recorded in 2015, Garthy must above all solve the severe shortage of foreign currencies and hence a significant difficulty for imports.

Furthermore the outgoing Minister, Dimian, said that Egypt would record a funding gap ranging between 25 and 30 billion dollars over the next three years.

The funds that Dimian had obtained from the World Bank before his resignation will be granted only in connection with some tax and fiscal reforms that the Egyptian government must absolutely implement.

For the World Bank this applies above all to a value added tax which is still being examined by the Egyptian Parliament.

Garhy comes directly from the business world: he worked for the Qalaa Holding, an important Egyptian financial holding operating in the oil, agrifood, transport and logistics, cement and mining sectors.

Previously Garhy had worked for the El Ahli Bank of Qatar, which deals with corporate banking and has 16 branches throughout the Emirate.

Later, before working for Qalaa, Garhy operated in the EFG Hermes and the Egyptian National Investment Bank, where he focused his activity on the matters he should address as Minister: the privatization of the Bank of Alexandria and the sale of Egyptian government bonds on international markets.

EFG Hermes is also a bank and an industrial holding company operating in seven Middle East countries, since it is now the first investment bank for the whole region stretching from Morocco to Jordan.

As Minister for Investment, Al Sisi chose Dahlia Korshed, former vice-President and treasurer of Orascom Construction, as well as former vice-President of the Egyptian Citibank.

Currently there are four female Ministers in the Egyptian government.

Al Sisi’s idea of separating this Ministry from the Ministry for Industry and Trade is the sign that the Egyptian President wants to give priority to infrastructure and industrial investment rather than to the often unproductive spending for supporting the now massive and bloated State apparatus.

We will analyze this matter later.

The main problem is that, after the structural decline of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) following the so-called 2011 “revolution” and despite the Conference on foreign investment held by Al Sisi in Sharm El Sheikh in 2015, which was certainly not a success, FDI does not take off at all.

From January to March 2015, the Egyptian FDI had reached 2.9 billion dollars, but fell dramatically to 690 million dollars in the following quarter, only to come back again to a still insufficient level of 1.39 billion US dollars in July-September 2015.

For the time being, the safest investment in Egypt comes mainly from Saudi Arabia, which promised 8 billion dollars in project financing over five years, and from China which signed some important contracts with Egypt during the recent visit of Xi Jinping in that country.

Egypt has a primary difficult to face: it does not always succeed in repaying foreign investors, who currently have credit with Egypt to the tune of 547.2 million US dollars.

In this connection, Egypt’s Central Bank has recently announced its offer of investment certificates in local currency at a 15% interest rate, but only in foreign currencies, considering the internal devaluation rate and the persistent overvaluation of the Egyptian currency.

The new Minister for Public Affairs, Ashraf Al Sharqawi, must monitor and supervise State-owned companies and support the growth of start-ups.

He is still the administrative Director of the Cairo University and is member of the Board of the State-owned bank Misr.

Sharqawi was President of the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority and member, as well as executive President, of the National Auditing Committee.

With specific reference to Misr, it is worth recalling that for 92 years this bank has been carrying out an activity of investment and collection of savings from regular clients and it has so far supported the establishment and growth of many companies in all Egyptian productive and commercial sectors. Currently it co-participates in over 202 projects, including agrifood, communications, finance and housing for the poor walks of society.

Furthermore, it also operates with Islamic financial criteria.

Hence, above all, Minister Sharqawi wants to reform and liberalize most State-owned companies.

This is also what Al Sisi has in mind, while announcing he will inject 25 billion US dollars in the Egyptian Central Bank to grant loans to small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as that loans to SMEs will account for at least 20% of all the loans granted by banks, at least for the next four years.

Clearly the Egyptian President’s goal is to recreate a strong and self-propelled internal market, by using foreign funds and internal financial leverage.

Nevertheless a 12.9% official unemployment rate, slightly decreasing as against last year, is a too strong political risk to run in a situation of great “youth bulge” (as we will see later on).

The financing envisaged by Al Sisi is functional and conducive to a youth employment expansion, which is the real sore point of the Egyptian society and economy.

The new Minister for Tourism, which is a key area for the Egyptian economy, is Mohammed Yehia Rashed, who replaces the previous Minister, Hisham Zaazou, who had been reconfirmed in September 2015 by Prime Minister Sharif Ismail.

A little score to settle in anticipation of Ismail’s confirmation as Prime Minister.

For many years Rashed worked in the international hotel chain, Marriot, and was responsible for the unit dedicated to Egyptian tourism within the Kuwaiti tourist agency Al Kharafi.

The Kuwaiti company Al Kharafi has been operating for over 100 years in the building and trading sectors and is currently active in the Middle East tourist sector.

Since 1960 it has been operating as a company for the building of real estate, especially in the tourist sector, and for civil construction throughout the Gulf area.

Al Sisi’s project is clear: to put builders, real estate agents and tour operators together for expanding Egypt’s tourist infrastructure.

Tourism is vital to Egypt and is also the sector floundering in the deepest crisis of its economy.

Before the shooting down of the Russian plane last October, the Egyptian tourist sector was worth 6.1 billion US dollars (and it was worth 12.5 billion US dollars just before the 2011 “revolution”) while, since the Russian plane crash, the Egyptian tourist business has fallen by 282 million US dollars per month.

These negative effects have been recorded even after Egypt hiring the international security consultancy firm Control Risks, while Russia has not yet resumed direct flights to Egypt.

Officers of the Russian security forces are still permanently deployed in Egyptian airports, while Italy has reopened all tourist channels, especially those regarding low cost airlines.

Nevertheless, through Thomas Cook and other national agencies, Great Britain still prevents travels to Sharm El Sheikh.

The task of Minister Rashed, who has a long experience in the luxury hotel sector, will be to convince Russia and Great Britain, in particular, to reopen their tourist routes to the South of Egypt and its archaeological sites.

As Minister for Civil Aviation, Al Sisi chose Sherif Fathy, former President of EgyptAir, who also worked at high levels both for the Dutch KLM and the American Northwest airlines.

The new Minister wants to develop new “unconventional” safety and security models and, together with his colleague of the Minister for Tourism, to convince Russia and Great Britain to return to Sharm.

Mohammed Safan is the new Minister for Manpower, a role which in Egypt is also related to the regulation of employment activities and young generations’ and unemployed people’s access to the labour market.

Before being appointed Minister, Safan had been the leader of the oil workers’ union and deputy-Secretary of the Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF).

Al-Sisi appointed Mohammed Abdel Atty, former Head of Egypt’s Nile Water Authority as Minister for Irrigation and Water Resources, which have been a key factor of the Egyptian economy and society as early as the time of Ramses I.

Nile’s control is certainly a relevant strategic factor, considering that, as early as King Farouk’s days, it is strategically essential for Egypt to secure the supply areas of the Nile River in Africa.

“O Solon, Solon, you Greeks are always children: there is not such a thing as an old Greek. You are young in soul, every one of you. For therein you possess not a single belief that is ancient and derived from old tradition, nor yet one science that is hoary with age.

And this is the cause thereof: there have been and there will be many and diverse destructions of mankind, of which the greatest are by fire and water, and lesser ones by countless other means”.

Plato reports in his Timeaus this speech by an Egyptian priest to Solon, but it is worth recalling that the very ancient civilization which made the Egyptians already adults was linked to the Nile River cycle.

And Nile’s security at its sources is also a serious military and security problem, particularly with regard to the long standing instability coming from the African Great Lakes region.

In fact, Minister Abdel-Atty has excellent relations with the Ethiopian authorities, which are very useful to make the project of the “Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam” set again into motion.

Furthermore, in his public speeches, Minister Abdel-Atty has also always maintained the need to solve, in time, the predicament of structural water shortage in Egypt.

The new Minister for Transport is Galaal Al Saleed, a former Minister in the same Department under the Government of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces in 2011.

Later, Al Saleed became Governor-General of Cairo.

Al Sisi chose Khaled Al-Anany as Minister for Antiquities.

In 2015 Al-Anany became general supervisor of the Grand Egyptian Museum but, previously, he had been the general manager of the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization.

Finally, the last new Minister appointed by Al Sisi is Nihal El Megharbel, as vice-Minister of the Ministry for Planning.

What is the political goal of these new appointments made by Al Sisi?

Probably the aim is to buy time at internal level, while the Egyptian government gets ready for a new strategy of suasion and actual new possibilities for foreign investment, as well as attempting a controlled liberalization of domestic markets.

The substance and essence of these choices make us foresee some Al Sisi’s pessimism on Egypt’s future economic potential.

In a 205-page document made public a few days ago, Prime Minister Sherif has already announced that the unemployment rate has risen from the 9% recorded in 2009-2010 to the current 13.3%.

If we consider that, from 2009 to 2014, the total Egyptian population grew from 77 million to the current 90, the situation gets extremely problematic.

Again from 2009 to 2014, public subsidies for food and fuels doubled and, as it was easy to foresee, inflation sky-rocketed so as to force the Egyptian Central Bank to carry out a devaluation of about 13% at the beginning of March.

Meanwhile, military spending has inevitably increased and, considering what we have already said on tourism and Foreign Direct Investment, growth has dropped significantly.

Moreover market signals show that the Egyptian currency is still overvalued and hence prices have risen further.

If another devaluation does not occur, an injection of fresh (foreign) capital will be needed to support the Egyptian currency.

This is an economic and social scenario similar to the one which allowed the fall of Hosni Mubarak’s regime, within the framework of a naive operation of North American coloured revolution.

But it was the Muslim Brotherhood – by providing the Praetorian Guard to the protesters gathered to demonstrate in Tahrir Square, among which the sister of Al Zarqawi, the leader of Al Qaeda, and the Head of Google in Egypt stood out – to build Mohammed Morsi’s electoral victory, guaranteed by the Muslim Brotherhood religious welfare for the countless Egyptian proletarians.

Then the well-known Al Sisi’s bloodless coup, the discovery of Morsi’s opening to jihad in the Sinai region, and the rest is very recent history.

Al Sisi is well aware that the problem lies in the fact that wages and subsidies account for 75% of public expenditure.

Both the fall of wages, with the resulting mass revolts, and the increase in prices, which would have the same political effect, must be avoided.

The public spending that Al Sisi can never reduce is the one for the Armed Forces, the real leader of Egypt’s economy. Nevertheless the rebellions being planned could thwart all the rational efforts for reforming the Egyptian economy imagined by Al Sisi.

If the new government succeeds in reforming the economy and, with a new internal security climate, in attracting the funds necessary for what the economist Walt Rostow defined the economic take-off (with specific reference to India in the 1960s), everything will turn out well and we will have strategic security in the Suez Canal and in the Sinai region, also for the European Union.

Otherwise the Egyptian crisis will recur, with two well-known scripts: the fundamentalist coup and the arrival of capital of the jihad and the countries sponsoring it.

Or Egypt’s endless economic decline, thus making the people of the most ancient country of the Mediterranean civilization add to the huge flows of people landing onto our shores.

It is also good to think about these facts, when we ask, with good reason, to know the truth about the assassination of the Italian researcher Giulio Regeni.

Advisory Board Co-chair Honoris Causa Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is an eminent Italian economist and businessman. He holds prestigious academic distinctions and national orders. Mr Valori has lectured on international affairs and economics at the world’s leading universities such as Peking University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Yeshiva University in New York. He currently chairs "La Centrale Finanziaria Generale Spa", he is also the honorary president of Huawei Italy, economic adviser to the Chinese giant HNA Group and member of the Ayan-Holding Board. In 1992 he was appointed Officier de la Légion d'Honneur de la République Francaise, with this motivation: "A man who can see across borders to understand the world” and in 2002 he received the title of "Honorable" of the Académie des Sciences de l'Institut de France

Middle East

The Khashoggi crisis: Saudi Arabia braces for tougher post-election US attitude

Dr. James M. Dorsey

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Saudi Arabia is bracing itself for a potentially more strained relationship with the United States in the wake of Democrats gaining control of the House of Representatives in this week’s mid-term elections and mounting Turkish efforts to corner the kingdom in the Khashoggi crisis.

To counter possible US pressure, the kingdom is exploring opportunities to diversify its arms suppliers and build a domestic defense industry. It is also rallying the wagons at home with financial handouts and new development projects in a bid to bolster domestic support for crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The Democrats’ election victory has strengthened Saudi concerns that the Trump administration may pressure the kingdom to back down on key issues like the Yemen war that has sparked the world’s worst humanitarian crisis since World War Two and the 17-month old Saudi-United Arab Emirates-led economic and diplomatic boycott of Qatar.

US officials have argued that Saudi policies complicate their efforts to isolate and economically cripple Iran.

The officials assert that the boycott of Qatar and the fallout of the October 2 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul constitute obstacles to the creation of a Sunni Muslim alliance against the Islamic republic, dubbed an Arab NATO, as well as the achievement of other US goals in the Middle East, including countering political violence and ensuring the free flow of oil.

Going a step further, senior Israelis say they have given up on the notion of a Sunni Muslim alliance whose interests would be aligned with those of the Jewish state and see their budding relations with Gulf states increasingly in transactional terms.

The Trump administration signalled its concerns even before the killing of Mr. Khashoggi.

“Our regional partners are increasingly competing and, in the case of the Qatar rift, entering into outright competition to the detriment of American interests and to the benefit of Iran, Russia and China,” National Security Adviser John Bolton wrote to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in a letter late summer, according to Reuters.

With the House expected to be tougher on arms sales to the kingdom and possibly go as far as imposing an arms embargo because of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen caused by Saudi and UAE military operations, Saudi Arabia has wasted no time in casting around for alternative weapons suppliers.

In apparent recognition that the Saudi military, reliant on US and European arms acquisitions, would find it difficult to quickly shift to Russian or Chinese systems, Saudi Arabia appears for now to be focussing on alternative Western suppliers.

That could prove to be risky with anti-Saudi sentiment because of the Yemen war also running high in European parliaments and countries like Spain and Germany either teetering on the brink of sanctions or having toyed with restrictions on weapons sales to the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia, nonetheless, has in recent days contracted Spanish shipbuilder Navantia to jointly build five corvettes for the Saudi navy and offered South African state-owned defense group Denel $1 billion to help the kingdom build a domestic defense industry.

The partnership with Denel would involve Saudi Arabia taking a minority stake in German defense contractor Rheinmetall, which designs armoured fighting vehicles and howitzers.

With sale of the US-made precision-guided munitions bogged down in Congress, Spain has stepped in to address Saudi Arabia’s immediate need. The question is however whether Spain can fully meet Saudi demand.

A US refusal already before the Gulf crisis and the Khashoggi incident to share with Saudi Arabia its most advanced drone technology, paved the way for Chinese agreement to open its first overseas defense production facility in the kingdom.

State-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) will manufacture its CH-4 Caihong, or Rainbow drone, as well as associated equipment in Saudi Arabia. The CH-4 is comparable to the US armed MQ-9 Reaper drone.

Saudi Arabia also fears that Democratic control of the House could strengthen opposition to a nuclear energy agreement with the kingdom. Five Republican senators called on President Donald J. Trump days before the mid-term election to suspend talks with Saudi Arabia.

Development of a defense industry would over time serve Prince Mohammed’s efforts to diversify the Saudi economy and create jobs.

So would  King Salman’s inauguration this week of 259 development projects worth US$6.13 billion ranging from tourism, electricity, environment, water, agriculture, housing, and transport to energy.  King Salman launched the projects during a curtailed visit to Saudi provinces designed to bolster support for his regime as well as his son, Prince Mohammed

On the other hand, the government’s most recent decision to restore annual bonuses and allowances for civil servants and military personnel without linking them to performance constitutes an attempt to curry public favour that runs contrary to Prince Mohammed’s intention to streamline the bureaucracy and stimulate competition.

Bonuses were cut in 2016 as part of austerity measures. They were restored last year and linked in May to job performance.

In a further populist move, King Salman also pardoned prisoners serving time on financial charges and promised to pay the debts up to US$267,000 of each one of them.

King Salman’s moves appear designed to lessen Saudi dependence on US arms sales and project a united front against any attempt to implicate Prince Mohammed in the death of Mr. Khashoggi.

The moves come as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insists that the order to kill the journalist came “from the highest levels of the Saudi government” and the Trump administration demands Saudi action against the perpetrators and those responsible for the murder.

Failure to be seen to be taking credible action may not undermine King Salman’s rallying of the wagons at home but will do little to weaken calls in Washington as well as European capitals for tougher action in a bid to force Saudi Arabia to come clean on the Khashoggi case and adopt a more conciliatory approach towards ending the Yemen war and resolving the Gulf crisis.

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Middle East

The murder of Khashoggi and a start for the project of passing from Saudi Arabia

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Khashoggi murder and its widespread reflection throughout the world has hit Saudi Arabia to one of the toughest crises in its contemporary history. Of course, this is not the first time the Al Saud regime has committed a crime against its opponents, but in the last cases Western countries usually hide the regime’s anti-humanitarian actions because of their dependence on Saudi Arabia oil, or their Billions dollar sale of weapons or generous offers of the ruling regime and considered them as minor. However, the review of the European approach to the ban on the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia or the boycott of the Saudi investment conference by the world’s largest companies and even Trump ambiguous statements in this regard and the emphasis on the immediate ceasefire in Yemen suggests that a new process is emerging, the process that can be considered as a start for the project of passing from Saudi Arabia. In fact, it seems that oil and the lucrative Al Saud consumption market are no longer attractive to Western countries, and the murder of the Khashoggi also provided an excuse to end the alliance with one of the most reactionary and barbaric governments in the world.

Various analyzes have been made on the future of US-Saudi relations. In this regard, a group of experts believe that the only reason that the United States supports the Saudi government is oil and ensuring energy flow to the largest economy in the world. Meanwhile, with shale oil production and US self-sufficiency in oil production, there remains practically no reason to support Saudi Arabia and Tramp’s remarks on Saudi Arabia’s obligation to pay for their security costs precisely means that the U.S. should not jeopardize more the credibility and interests of the United States for such a costly alliance.

Referring to the Great Middle East Plan and the need to break up the powers of the region into smaller countries, the experts believe that the United States should provide the necessary ground for the balkanization of the region as soon as possible by cutting back from Saudi Arabia.

The scenarios that western thinkers have drawn for the future of West Asia over the period 2010 to 2020 are based on this region, along with China and Russia, should be submerged in insecurity and civil wars, and finally, out of the ashes of war provide ground for the consolidation of the US global empire and the realization of its desired new order as well as security of Israel, and interestingly, the emergence of ISIS, either wittingly or unwittingly, served most to realize this American scenario.

Under this plan, all countries in the region should be divided into smaller countries based on linguistic, ethnic, religious, and racial divisions and there are no exceptions in this area even for close allies. Therefore, although the use of Saudi leverage to curb Iran’s power in the region is necessary, but ultimately this regime, just like Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Sudan, Afghanistan and other countries of the region, also must be fragmented without any consideration so that by formation of small, bankrupt and weak states virtually Israel emerges as the most powerful actor in the West Asia.

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Middle East

Arab NATO against Iran, an unfulfilled dream

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Washington will face defeat in the formation of a united Arab front against Iran, as Arab states are still struggling with many regional and domestic challenges and Iran will remain a strong actor in the region.

The largest military drill- land, naval, air and special forces kicked off in Egypt on Sunday with participation of the US, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Jordan, and the observers Morocco and Lebanon.

The drill is held at the Mohamed Naguib Military Base in Egypt’s north-western governorate of Marsa Matrouh until November 16.

The exercise, dubbed Arab Shield 1, claims to come in the framework of strengthening joint military cooperation between Egypt and Arab countries, to build the combat capabilities of the armed forces, and achieve common objectives.

This is a military campaign that has long been the subject of talks and statements from the rise of the Arab NATO. Interestingly, Qatar and Oman did not participate in this exercise, and the location of the drill, shows that Egypt, with the largest Arab army is likely to be the headquarters of the Arab NATO.

The objective of this NATO surely is not to confront the Zionist regime, since the Arab states are moving towards normalization of their relations with Tel Aviv, which has intensified recently. In fact, the US government seeks to end the step-by-step implementation of the century deal and unveil it in the latest plan to form a new security and military order in the region. Hence, the ultimate goal of this military-security organization is to confront opposition of the new order, and at the head of them lay Iran, and the Palestinian and Lebanese resistance forces.

The military exercise comes only a month after the meeting of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with the foreign ministers of Arab states in New York. Earlier, Persian Gulf military commanders held a meeting in Kuwait at the invitation of US military commanders in the region.

US President Donald Trump’s government is pursuing to launch a so-called Arabic version of the NATO coalition to confront Iran by putting subtle pressure on the Persian Gulf Arab States along with Egypt and Jordan. Of course, this coalition will be formed partly under the name of the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), but it is also known as the Arab NATO. Bahrain’s foreign minister said on Saturday at the IISS Manama Dialogue, the annual Middle East’s security summit, that the coalition would be formed by the start of the New Year, a claim that many analysts are skeptical of.

The Arab NATO is a transformed plan that was first initiated at the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI), an initiative launched during NATO’s 2004 Istanbul summit. The plan was to expand NATO to the Persian Gulf region. Proposed by Ahmed al-Sabah and approved by NATO Secretary General, the NATO office was launched in Kuwait in 2011.
The plan, however, has seen a few changes since:

Removal of Turkey and Qatar, Arab NATO will continue to work independently of the NATO, Expansion of the Arab NATO from the Persian Gulf to the Red Sea, particularly to Egypt, has the US support, counters Iran’s influence in the Middle East region, and coordination of operational intelligence with Israel.

The ICC is an offer to engage in practical security cooperation activities with states throughout the Greater Middle East. The initiative offers practical cooperation with interested nations in the Greater Middle East in such areas as: The ICC counter-WMD; counterterrorism; training and education; participation in NATO exercises; promoting military interoperability; disaster preparedness and civil emergency planning; tailored advice on defense reform and civil-military relations; cooperation on border security to help prevent illicit trafficking of drugs, weapons, and people.

In fact, NATO seeks to confront new threats, including Islamic fundamentalism, terrorism, and so on, to ensure the security of regional partners, prevent the non-proliferation regime gaining access to nuclear weapons, ensure the sources of energy and its transit lines, and provide a model of regional order with regional countries except Iran and Iraq.
The plan to form a new regional coalition was supposed to reach a very large circle, and the Arab NATO was going to confront the so-called hostile regional forces, but following the crisis between Qatar and Arab states in the Persian Gulf region in June 2017, it seems the coalition cannot stand united against Iran.

Many analysts believe that formation of the coalition will be postponed to 2019, particularly now that the Saudis are grappling with Jamal Khashoggi’s murder case in their consulate in Istanbul.

Perhaps the US is waiting to observe the impact of its political and economic sanctions on Iran prior to joining the regional coalition against Iran so are the Arab states in the region.

In addition, the Arab countries need more time to form this coalition, as they are struggling with many challenges in the political and military arena of the region, including Qatar’s crisis, the Yemeni War, Jamal Khashoggi’s case, and Arab differences in regional issues, especially over Palestine.

Saudi Arabia and Egypt have different interpretation of terrorism. While Saudi Arabia cooperates with the Muslim Brotherhood in Yemen and Syria, Egypt considers the Sunni Islamist organization a terrorist group. Saudi Arabia and Qatar also hold different views over the organization.

Iran’s influence in Arab countries, including Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, creates further obstacles to the formation of the coalition. According to reports, Trump is scheduled to hold a meeting in Washington, where he will announce the launch of the regional coalition.

The US has placed a number of conditions on the Arab countries, including the need to fulfill Saudi military objectives in Yemen and the withdrawal of the strategic harbor of al-Hudaydah and reconciliation with Qatar.

Amidst all these, Trump is seeking an opportunity to announce the so called the “deal of the century” to resolve the issue of Palestine, and for that Arab countries need to have an integrated stance.

The other side of the deal is Iran. The Islamic Republic of Iran is, too, promoting its position in the region by strengthening its strategic alliance.

Thus, Washington will face defeat in the formation of a united Arab front against Iran, as Arab states are still struggling with many regional and domestic challenges and Iran will remain a strong actor in the region.

First published in our partner MNA

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