Monday, March 17, 2014

"Saudi Arabia may be tacitly conceding something in Syria, but it is doubling its bet on ‘wiping out’ the Muslim Brotherhood"

"... The predominant triggers for all this commotion was primarily Egypt and Saudi’s attachment to its Field Marshall’s scourge of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and secondly, the dramatic Saudi decree disowning jihadists – much to the ire of the ‘jilted’ jihadists in Syria and to their Salafi and Brotherhood colleagues and facilitators in Lebanon....The second trigger probably has been the appointment of Prince Mohammad bin Nayef to replace Prince Bandar in charge of Saudi’s re-orientated Syria policy.  Perhaps here it is right to conclude that the prospect of a visit by President Obama to Riyadh shortly has catalyzed the ‘re-set’ in Saudi policy towards countering takfiri jihadism. Prince Mohammad is both an American favorite, and his credentials precisely lie in the field of counter-terrorism – the new western priority.  But, significantly, both he and his father are also widely known for their detestation of the Muslim Brotherhood.  Saudi Arabia may be tacitly conceding something in Syria, but it is doubling its bet on ‘wiping out’ the Muslim Brotherhood.  If Saudi Arabia persuades others in the region to proscribe the MB, Mohammad bin Nayef may be right in assuming that the Europeans, so well atuned to Gulf interests, may be counted on to act in follow-up....What does this mean in terms of geo-politics? Firstly, it is likely that these GCC tensions will play out directly in Syria, where the frictions between Gulf States are likely to mirror in the antagonisms and conflicts between the various armed insurgent groups – to the benefit of the Syrian army.  Secondly, the loss of GCC coherence will both weaken it as a body, and adversely affect Saudi’s political standing, which derives from its control over this body; thirdly, the hostilities towards Oman and Qatar, far from deterring them from rapprochement with Iran, precisely are spurring them in that direction; fourthly, the assault on the Muslim Brotherhood is deepening PM Erdogan’s loneliness and political vulnerability.  Finally, Saudi Arabia has really extended itself in loading so much of its credibility onto the shoulders of Field Marshal Sisi and the unforeseeable course of events in Egypt..."

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