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Monday, March 24, 2014

The Saudi link to Egypt riddle: Mass execution of Egyptians to protect Saudi Royal palace?

IF you had any doubts the 'secularists' backing the uprising against Mohammad Morsi in Egypt had at least something right in the whole fiasco, these have been dispelled now.

With a judge sentencing 529 Morsi supporters to death, while many have been reminded of the endless persecution of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt's history, I am particularly worried about the implications of such a blatant state terror for larger Middle East.

If indeed Egypt proceeds with the mass executions in the name of taming terrorism, it will be the darkest chapter in recent history, particularly related to the fate of popular uprisings.

While the world is glued at the rapidly unfolding events in and around Ukraine, the new Egyptian despot has few hurdles towards elimination of his adversaries.

Going a little back, Morsi-led Muslim Brotherhood might have gone on an autocratic overdrive while briefly in power but that is entirely forgivable given the democratic credentials of their successor.

While the blood will immediately drench the hands of president-in-making Sisi, the hands backing him from Saudi Arabia are no longer hidden: the Saudi precipice will have to somehow pay the price in future for not-so-secretly culling a generation of MB in Egypt.

When will it come back to haunt the Saudis? I have no precise answer but anyone with a reasonable notion of history can clearly see that. The paranoia of the ultra-orthodox bastion of Wahabbism towards less extremist versions of Islam has now apparently reached the schizophrenic level. Putting more developments in context, the recent rebuttal of Qatar by the other GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) members (Saudi, UAE and Bahrain) clearly indicated the increasing impatience of the Saudis with Qatar's proximity with the Brotherhood.

Connecting the many dots from recent past, it is quite reasonable that the sense of exasperation in the Saudi capital is nearing boiling point. While it can be argued that the Egyptian strongman may be capable of executing the last credible threat to its power on his own, it seems rather illogical he would proceed with the bloodletting of this scale on his own.

So what precisely pushed the Saudis to such a desperate situation? While the larger issues like potential rapprochement between the arch rival Iran and increasingly estranged patron US might have influenced the situation, it is perfectly possible that the Saudis have a nagging realization that there is substantial threat to the very existence of Saudi Arabia from the emerging  demographic and political order in the Middle East.

But how will the execution of a thousand or so Egyptians precisely help the Saudi palace to maintain its iron grip over a significant Gulf population? My calculations are hopeless: revenge breeds more revenge and MB is not precisely known for giving up fight after a brutal attack against it.

So, what next after the botched trials in Egypt, for Egypt itself as well as Saudi Arabia? May be Saudi prince Bandar bin Sultan knows it better.

Personally, I think the impending bloodbath in Egypt is as much the work of morbid Saudi paranoia as the Egyptian strongman Sisi's delusion of grandeur. And ultimately, the despotic regimes in each capital will be held accountable for the grisly act; by history if not by anyone else. 

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