And now, a message from our (Saudi) sponsors

By Pepe Escobar (Asia Times – Roving Eye)

There he is, Egypt’s new pharaoh, Pinochet Sisi, in full regalia/glory. Subtitles are superfluous. This is General Abdel Fattel al-Sisi’s Oscar moment. He’s thanking his sponsors/producers. When he mentions “Saudi Arabia” the room goes wild. When he mentions [King] “Abdullah” the room goes wild.

What a performance. A biopic looms. He’s already dreaming of Jack Nicholson doing him on screen. Note the self-congratulatory smirk, as he is so confident of having fooled legions of Arab “progressives” – from secular leftists to Nasserists – into believing he’s defending the interests of the perennially invoked “Egyptian people”.

Note the “Fight against terrorism” on the top left of the small screen. Here’s Sisi as Dubya – in Mission Accomplished mode. Who cares that Egypt has been reduced to a totally (bloody) failed state? Who cares about competing gruesome headlines – “Sinai Militants Execute 25 Egypt Police” versus “Junta Suffocates 38 Detainees in Police Van”? He’s winning the “war on terror” – as the new head of the snake, the snake that never got away.

Feel free to bask in the snake’s glow. And as a climax to the show, the previous head of the snake could be freed in the next 24 hours. To the delight of the House of Saud, who loved him as one of their own, the snake charmers are about to release Hosni Mubarak. “Arab Spring?” – one can easily imagine the former head of the snake muttering. “Don’t make me laugh.” And he won’t – at least in public. This “Arab Spring”, this Google invention, never happened. You can all go home now – and stay there. The snake will protect you and defend the interests of the “Egyptian people”. But remember; if you’re against us, you’re a terrorist. And we’re coming to get you.

We’re deciding not to decide
The producers of the Egyptian epic are as delighted as their star. What a major box office success. Who cares that Poodleland – as in the European Union – will convene an “emergency” meeting this Wednesday to perhaps “suspend aid” to Glorious Sisi? Who cares that the US Congress is tentatively following the same path? [1]

Picture a split screen featuring roars of laughter at the producers lair in Riyadh. For the Obama administration this was – and remains – a coup that is not a coup, although it walked like a coup and talked like a coup. But categorical imperatives do not apply here. So congress is deciding they are not going to say if it’s a coup or not. And the Obama administration is deciding to say nothing about what it may decide – only that is “reprograming” the whole thing.

Whatever non-decision is reached, the producers couldn’t care less. The Saudi foreign minister, the eternal Saud al-Faisal, has already promised that the producers and other Gulf Cooperation Council associate producers – as in the United Arab Emirates – will happily match and perhaps even double whatever aid is lost by the glorious head of the snake Sisi.

The New York Times struggled hard to give the impression that Washington had any sway in influencing glorious Sisi – and the producers – against launching the coup that is not a coup. [2] That is eminently laughable (cut to the split screen in Riyadh). The only nugget in the report is that the House of Saud, the UAE and Israel frantically incited, supported and lobbied for the coup that is not a coup; Asia Times Online had already reported about it.

Ooops, Israel; glorious Sisi could not possibly thank this particular producer in his Oscar acceptance speech. How can you justify that to the Arab street – that we’re the servants of the occupiers of Palestine? As for the Israelis, they couldn’t care less; Sisi is “one of them”; they are always “in close contact”; and he would never do anything to cancel the Camp David accords.

Sunny, I love you
The Obama administration has subcontracted its Middle East policy to the House of Saud at its own peril. Whatever King “Return of the Living Dead” Abdullah says, goes. Actually, not; whatever Return of the Invisible Spy, the spectacular resurfaced Bandar bin Sultan, aka Bandar Bush, does, holds. The beauty of the coup that is not a coup, and Sisi’s acceptance speech, is that Bandar, eminent practitioner of dark arts, is not even mentioned.

And yet it was Bandar Bush who – in his recent four-hour meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin – did not get what he wanted in Syria; but he did get what he wanted in Egypt. Chess player Putin clearly saw the opening; after all the Muslim Brotherhood is anathema to both the House of Saud and the Kremlin. And if there’s no more US “aid” to Sisi’s junta – as in we give you cash so you can buy more of our weapons – there’s nothing preventing the Russian arms industry from filling the void.

None of this, of course, will make the Syrian tragedy go away; during Ramadan, it was Bandar Bush who organized the silent acquisition of at least US$50 million in weapons from Israel instantly shipped to the dizzying net of Salafi-jihadi-mercenary gangs supported by the House of Saud. And this after Bandar Bush successfully strong-armed the Obama administration to get rid of those Qatari upstarts – who were paying the Muslim Brotherhood’s bills in Egypt – and let him take over the Syrian jihad.

Bandar is on a roll. He’s now in charge of an extremely ambitious “total jihad”, three-pronged strategy in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, manipulating the same old House of Saud iron horse of sectarian hatred, pitting Sunnis against “apostate” Shi’ites, with a heavy emphasis on ghastly car bombings in civilian areas, as in the recent bombing in the southern Beirut suburb of Zahiyeh.

But this is a long-term franchise with many sequels in store. For now, he tops the box office in Egypt. But there may be a spanner in the works. The Tamarod movement – who collected the 22 million signatures that led to the mass demonstrations that created the opening for the coup that is not a coup – is now demanding not only the cancellation of all US “aid” but of the Camp David accords as well. [3]

Now that’s another bomb – the heart of the matter as far as US/Israel are concerned. What if Tamarod manages to again get 22 million – or more – signatures – not unlikely considering the absolute majority of Egyptians abhor the “peace” with Israel? Will glorious Sisi muster the courage to displease his Israeli producers? Will Bandar give him a green light? Will the Obama administration install a no-fly zone over Cairo?

As the world fastens myriad seat belts ahead of looming storms, the news from the White House, is, well, soothing. There’s a new member in the household, a puppy named Sunny. So picture the household singing at the dinner table, in unison; “Dark days are gone/ bright days are here/ my Sunny one shines so sincere”. Cut to Sisi/Jack Nicholson in full regalia; “Heeeeeere’s Johnny!”

1. Obama administration quietly suspends military aid to Egypt, mulls ‘coup’ – report, Russia Today, August 20, 2013.
2. How American Hopes for a Deal in Egypt Were Undercut, The New York Times, August 17, 2013.
3. Egypt’s Rebel Campaign launches petition to cancel US aid, Israel peace treaty, Ahram Online, August 18, 2013.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. He has also written Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at

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