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Opinion: A Friend in Need is a Friend Indeed - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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As is the case among individuals, there are nothing as important as crises and hardships in defining the ties among countries. Saudi Arabia has proved to be a true friend of Egypt during the crisis it is going through. This is evidenced by the decisive stances taken by King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz in support of stability, as well as Riyadh’s diplomatic moves through the foreign minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal who paid a visit to France prior to the emergency meeting of EU foreign ministers on Egypt.

Those overseeing Saudi foreign policy may find that it usually leans towards patience, staying away from any interference with the internal affairs of any country, particularly Arab ones, and not adopting hasty positions. However, when it comes to the current crisis in Egypt, Saudi reactions—on the highest levels—were rapid, decisive and public, signaling Riyadh’s realization of the gravity of the situation. The stances of several countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain and Jordan were similarly supportive of stability in Egypt at a time when everybody senses that allowing collapse and failure to spread to this historically significant, as well as most populous, Arab country will bring disaster into the entire region.

The importance of these stances lies in the fact that they send a clear message to the world that Arabs do have a position on what is happening in Egypt and that, due to the special importance of this North African country, no rash or immature political stances can be accepted. In fact, such stances will cause further rifts and destruction in the Arab region as well as show bias towards one side.

These Arab stances basically came to show support for the Egyptian state and institutions given that they represent the pillar of stability in this axial country. Allowing Egypt to collapse will open the door for catastrophes and chaos. These stances are not biased, given that Saudis have made sure since the start of the events to affirm their respect of the will of the Egyptians, dealing openly with the Muslim Brotherhood rulers of Egypt as well as receiving their figures as the then representatives of the Egyptian government. However, it was no secret that the millions of Egyptians who went to the streets on July 30, demanding the removal of the president, reflect a different Egyptian will that could not be ignored. At the time, the military was compelled to intervene to impose change. One can argue that had the change been made democratically through the ballot boxes, things would have been better on both the internal and external spheres. Without doubt, this would have been the ideal scenario.

However, in reality the tools for such a scenario were not available. This is not to mention the intransigence on the series of political solutions proposed to find a way out of the crisis. Among these solutions were holding a presidential election, as it was not possible to wait for other four years under pressure from the public demanding change.

One can only be sorry for the bloodshed whether among protesters or the security forces given that they are all Egyptians.

The amount of international attention to what is happening in Egypt has been fairly good. However, some of the measures and steps taken in other countries must not be repeated. These steps include acts of interference in other countries resulting in catastrophes whose cost the region still bears. Such interference resulted in some countries’ ability to assume control over only limited areas while exercising no sovereignty over wide stretches of its territory.

One fact that cannot be ignored is that there is a strong public support for the Egyptian state and a desire that the government restores its prestige despite the pain caused by bloodshed. The latest of such sorry incidents was the cold-blooded murder of soldiers on Monday in Sinai, the peninsula that has become another battlefield in a war launched by dark forces that only rise during unrest.

Ali Ibrahim

Ali Ibrahim

Ali Ibrahim is Asharq Al-Awsat's deputy editor-in-chief. He is based in London.

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