American Magazine: Corona a Crisis for Tyrants in the Middle East .. Saudi Arabia and Egypt as Models
The American magazine, “The New Republic”, shed light, Saturday, on the recent events in the Middle East, starting with the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s campaign of arrests of his cousins and the outbreak of the Coronavirus in Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
The report said: Bin Salman sparked new unrest in the Kingdom’s foreign relations, first by arresting a group of his relatives in the royal family then by engaging in a risky game with Russia over oil supplies, which pushed crude oil prices to collapse and hit the already fragile global economy.
The report described what is happening as “fading flexibility” within the authoritarian regimes in the Middle East. That flexibility is what many Western policymakers have unwisely wagered on. It also pointed out that US President Trump’s enthusiasm for dictators in the Middle East is only the latest and most horrific example. Especially his predecessor, Barack Obama, who was the one who gave Bin Salman the green light to present his credentials by launching the war on Yemen.
Moreover, “Trump” did not hide that the American arms sales to the Kingdom constitute a sufficient reason to secure his close relationship with Saudi Arabia. France, Germany, and the United Kingdom were also enthusiastic, and were no less proud, as they have been selling weapons to a group of dictators across the Middle East since the Arab Spring.
The report also noted that the European Union continues to support human rights after holding the first summit between the League of Arab States and the Union in Egypt 2019. This is because Egypt is one of the countries that descended into a state of deeper tyranny than it was during the era of the late President Hosni Mubarak. The title of the summit declaration was: “Investing in stability,” especially since Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, who came to power through a military coup, takes a darker approach in which he tries to maintain his regime by impoverishing his people.
In addition, the magazine stressed that European and American policymakers are betting that the strong hand of tyrants is the most appropriate way to secure Western interests. These days, those interests involve halting perceived threats, such as terrorism, Iran, and refugees.
Corona’s effects on the economy
The magazine touched upon the global economic impact of the coronavirus, which would double the consequences on the Egyptian and Saudi economies. It would further undermine the ability of the ruling regimes in these countries to build or maintain popular legitimacy.
The magazine continued: Dictators use the policy of seduction and coercion to end up with the tyrant ruler relying more on repression later on. In both Egypt and Saudi Arabia, such a regression trend is becoming more visible to the rest of the world. The report also mentioned what is happening in Egypt, whereas Sisi suppressed the entire country, arrested thousands, and stifled most forms of freedom of expression.
In comparison with Egypt, Saudi repression was more selective, as arrests and killings targeted opponents.The most famous of opponents was Jamal Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post.
Although repression is not a new element in the Middle East, this fact should not lead us to neglect the unprecedented ways in which repression is being applied now.