- State declares Morsi’s rule “wasn’t democratic” as American, Gulf aid floods into Egypt
- Secret Saudi ballistic desert base has missiles pointed at Israel and Iran, underscores Iran-driven breakout fears
- Turkish and Israeli analysts: Erdogan anti-Semitism makes restoring ties unlikely
- Congressional letter to call on Qatar to take another look at its Hamas funding
What we’re watching today:
- The U.S. State Department on Wednesday outlined its position that the government of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi “wasn’t a democratic rule” and that the mass protests that prompted Morsi’s ouster by Egypt’s military – the largest such protests in the history of humanity – involved “22 million people… making clear that democracy is not just about simply winning the vote at the ballot box.” Washington’s acknowledgement comes as the U.S. recommitted to delivering four F-16 fighter jets to Cairo – part of an order of 20 planes expected to be completed by the end of the year as part of a $1.5 billion military aid package. Egypt’s interim government welcomed the position, emphasizing that it "reflect[s] understanding and realization… about the political developments that Egypt is witnessing." Meanwhile various Gulf nations moved to assist the interim government in stabilizing Egypt’s reeling economy, which new revelations indicate was substantially worse than the Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood-linked government had been willing to publicly acknowledge. A New York Times report cataloged a $12 billion cash inflow from Gulf nations into Egypt since Wednesday, including $4 billion from Kuwait. Egypt’s economy had in May already slipped to Great Depression levels, as Morsi’s efforts to appease his base and institutionalize Islam cost Cairo critically needed assistance from Europe and international institutions.
- An expose published earlier this week by Jane's Defense Weekly and unpacked in an article published yesterday by the Telegraph discloses that Saudi Arabia is maintaining a ballistic missile base “deep in the Saudi desert” with surface-to-surface missiles oriented toward, and capable of striking, Tel Aviv and Tehran. The Telegraph quotes Robert Munks, deputy editor of Jane’s Intelligence Review, to the effect that “this base is either partly or fully operational, with the launch pads pointing in the directions of Israel and Iran respectively.” The revelation will be read against deepening fears that Saudi Arabia is upgrading its ballistic assets in response to fears that Iran is advancing toward developing a nuclear weapon. Saudi Arabia has for decades been in possession of missiles capable of being fit with nuclear warheads, and the Kingdom has been explicit that it will respond to Iranian nuclear weapons acquisition by abandoning its nonproliferation obligations and building its own arsenal. Similar calculations have been expressed by Iranian rivals throughout the region, with Sunni countries warning that Iran’s atomic program, which is widely assumed to have a clandestine component, risks “a grave and destructive nuclear arms race in the region.” A fall 2012 poll conducted in Egypt by The Israel Project showed that an overwhelming 87 percent of Egyptians, against the backdrop of Iran’s nuclear program, also want to obtain nuclear weapons.
- A combination of political ideology and entrenched anti-Semitism within Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development (AKP) Party threatens to derail efforts to reconcile with Israel – at significant cost to Ankara’s interests – according to an array of recently published analyses and reporting. Relations between the two countries were frozen by the Islamist AKP government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan over Israel’s 2010 boarding of a Turkish vessel trying to break Israel’s blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Commandos who boarded the ship were attacked by the passengers on board, and nine died in the ensuing fighting. In March Erdogan was maneuvered by U.S. President Barack Obama into accepting an Israeli proposal for reconciliation that he had long rejected as inadequate. The deal brought him under intense domestic pressure, and worries soon emerged that the Turkish premier was backsliding on Turkish commitments and undermining rapprochement. Veteran Turkish journalist Kadri Gursel suggested this week that Erdogan and his AKP party are institutionally incapable of normalizing with Israel because, “as an Islamist government that has produced so much anti-Semitic conspiracy theories,” it has lost the political and rhetorical option of doing so. The point was echoed by experts who gathered at a Tel Aviv conference this week, where the broad consensus was that Erdogan’s tactics of bolstering his domestic credibility via anti-Semitic appeals have undermined the chances for an improvement in bi-lateral relations. A recent poll of Israelis seems to confirm the sentiments, and a majority of Israelis now view a partial apology offered by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – which came as part of the deal brokered by Obama – as a mistake.
- A “Dear Colleague” letter currently collecting signatures in Congress – and due to be delivered to Qatari Ambassador to the U.S. Mohammed Bin Abdullah al-Rumaihis – expresses concern over Doha’s assistance to Hamas, which the letter says “empowers, legitimizes, and bolsters an organization committed to violence and hatred.” The letter, circulated by Reps. Peter Roskam (R-IL) and John Barrow (D-GA), comes at a time when Qatar is scrambling to maneuver around the removal from power of former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. Doha had strongly supported Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood movement, with documents being published this week showing six-figure payments from Qatar to top Brotherhood officials.
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