IN the wake of the growing crisis in Egypt, divisions between the Arab rulers are widening as Turkey and Qatar support the Muslim Brotherhood while Saudi Arabia and Oman support the Egyptian army.
Saudi Arabia said on Monday that Arab and Islamic countries will step in to help Egypt if Western nations cut aid packages to Cairo over its deadly crackdown on Islamist protesters.
‘To those who have announced they are cutting their aid to Egypt, or threatening to do that, (we say that) Arab and Muslim nations are rich … and will not hesitate to help Egypt,’ Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said in a statement carried by the kingdom’s SPA state news agency.
Prince Saud was speaking upon his return from France, where he held talks with President Francois Hollande who has strongly condemned the violence in Egypt.
Hundreds of people have been killed in the North African country since security forces began a clampdown on Muslim Brotherhood protests last week.
US Senator John McCain called on Washington to suspend its $1.3 billion in annual aid to Egypt’s military after it overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Mursi on July 3.
But some US lawmakers have taken up the Israeli position that cutting off aid could endanger Israel’s security by undermining the Egyptian army, which defends its Sinai frontier with Israel and is committed to the peace treaty with Israel.
Foreign ministers of the European Union are to hold emergency talks on Wednesday to review the bloc’s relations with Cairo.
At stake is nearly five billion euros ($6.7 billion) in loans and grants promised by the world’s top aid donor to Egypt for 2012-2013. It includes one billion euros from the EU with the rest from European banks the EIB and EBRD.
Prince Saud accused countries that slammed Egypt’s crackdown of ‘believing propaganda’ and assuming ‘hostile positions towards the interests and the stability of Arab and Islamic nations’.
‘Let those states that are taking negative stances know that the blaze and destruction will not be confined to Egypt, but will affect all those who supported trouble,’ he said.
Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries welcomed Egypt’s ouster of Mursi, which infuriated supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood’s president and sent them into the streets.
King Abdullah was the first leader to send a message of congratulations to caretaker president Adly Mansour, who was appointed shortly after the army deposed Mursi following nationwide protests.
Saudi Arabia later announced an aid package of $5 billion to Egypt. Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates followed suit, bringing the pledges made by the three oil-rich Arab states of the Gulf to $12 billion.
The Saudi monarch pledged on Friday the kingdom’s support for Egypt’s fight against ‘terrorism’, and has ordered the dispatch of three fully-equipped field hospitals to Cairo.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s former president Hosni Mubarak has been granted conditional release in one of the corruption cases against him, but will remain in custody on charges in an additional case, judicial sources said on Monday.
His lawyer said the ruling would clear the way for Mubarak’s release from jail soon.
The lawyer plans to appeal against the fourth and final case, which is also related to corruption, in a bid to secure the former president’s release, according to a judicial source.
Farid al-Dib, Mubarak’s lawyer, is expected to argue that his client paid back the $600,120 (449,570 euros) worth of gifts he received from his minister of information – the issue at the heart of the fourth case.
Since April, courts have ordered Mubarak’s conditional release in two of the four cases against him – one involving corruption, and a second for allegedly killing protesters.
On Monday, he was granted conditional release in a third case, and will now seek to be cleared of charges in the fourth, the judicial sources said.
The former president, 85, is on trial with his former interior minister Habib Adly and six police commanders on charges related to their rule before the 2011 uprising that toppled his regime.
On Saturday, a court adjourned his trial on charges of killing protesters until August 25 in a brief session that Mubarak did not attend.
He is facing the charges for a second time after a first trial that ended in him being sentenced to life was overturned by an appeals court on the basis of procedural errors.
• Kuwait meanwhile is to deport nine Egyptian Islamists for participating in protests outside their embassy in the Gulf emirate which bans foreigners from demonstrating, a newspaper said on Monday.
The men were among a group of some 70 protesters who staged two demonstrations outside the Egyptian embassy and consulate last week, to protest at a deadly crackdown in Cairo of supporters of Egypt’s deposed Islamist president Mohamed Mursi, Al-Rai newspaper reported.
The daily paper said that police were still working on identifying other protesters, who could also face deportation, pointing out that the law in Kuwait bans foreigners from staging protests.
Kuwait has been vocal in backing Egypt’s military ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mursi on July 3, following large nationwide protests.
It pledged an urgent aid package of $4 billion to Egypt, as neighbouring Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates pledged $5 billion and $3 billion respectively.
l Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the Egyptian authorities of administering ‘state terrorism,’ while Egypt’s foreign minister on Sunday called Turkey’s fierce criticism of the harsh Egyptian military crackdown on the supporters of ousted leader Mohammed Mursi ‘hostile’.
The decision to scrap the two countries’ joint naval exercise came a day after Ankara announced on the Turkish Foreign Ministry website that it was recalling its ambassador, Huseyin Avni Botsali, from Cairo on Thursday.
The Egyptian Foreign Ministry decided to recall Egypt’s ambassador in Ankara, Abdel Rahman Salah, for consultations on the same day.
Erdogan speaking at the opening ceremony of an urban transformation project in Bursa’s Yildirim district said: ‘Places of worship are sacred, but the Syrian and Egyptian government ruined and burned our mosques in Egypt and Syria.
‘There is no difference between Sisi and al-Assad.
‘Those who support them are not any different from them,’ Erdogan maintained.
He continued that actors who are playing games in Egypt will continue to play their games in other Muslim countries. ‘They may also want to intervene in Turkey as they don’t want a powerful Turkey in the region …
‘We will break this trap.’
He added: ‘They want Turkey to be silent; they want Turkey to turn its back on Egypt, to not see what happened as a massacre.
‘As Turkey speaks, reacts, and voices complaints against the violations of rights and justice, people are disturbed.’
He said that while the Muslim Brotherhood tries to protect churches, the international media reported that it had burned 30 of them.
He likened the media organisations’ reporting on Egypt to the ‘Gezi media,’ which he accused of provoking the nationwide protests in Turkey.
While speaking about Egypt, Erdogan raised four fingers, flashing the ‘Rabaa sign,’ a symbol of support that comes from the anti-coup protests in Rabaa al-Adawiya Square in Cairo.