Over at the Gatestone Institute, a team of journalists including me reviewed the increasing chaos in the Middle East and concluded that an Israeli strike on Iran has become more probable.
The Muslim Brotherhood leader and Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi received a $2 billion pledge from the visiting emir of Qatar Sunday morning, and on Sunday afternoon fired the military leadership and announced a constitutional revision reducing the military’s role in the Egyptian government. Whether this is manic overreach or the spring of a diabolical plot remains to be seen. Egypt has a $36 billion annual trade deficit, against earnings of about $5 billion a year from the Suez Canal, an undetermined amount (probably about $7 billion) from tourism, and a few billion workers’ remittances–that is, an annual financing requirement of over $20 billion.
Qatar’s $2 billion is a drop in the bucket; it just replaces the reserves that Egypt lost last month. So is a $3.5 billion IMF loan, under discussion for a year. The Obama administration has been telling people quietly that the Saudis will step in to bail out Egypt, but the Qatari intervention makes this less likely. The eccentric and labile emir is the Muslim Brotherhood’s biggest supporter; its spiritual leader, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi (who supports suicide bombings against Israel), lived in exile during the Mubarak regime. Qatar funds al-Jazeera television, the modern face of Islamism. The Saudis hate and fear the Brotherhood, which wants to overthrow the Saudi monarchy and replace it with a modern Islamist totalitarian political party. Qatar has only about $30 billion in reserves and can’t sustain Egypt for long.
Secular commentators in Egypt allege a deeper relationship between Qatar and the Brotherhood. Wrote al-Ahram:
Following the January 25 revolution and the rise of Islamists to positions of power, questions were raised by anti-Brotherhood forces regarding the nature of the relationship between Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood. Some critics claim that the group received funds from the Gulf state during the presidential race. Morsi was the Brothehood’s candidate, after its first choice Khairat El-Shater was unable to run.
Moreover, other rumours circulated claiming the Brotherhood is planning to rent the Suez Canal to Qatar for ninety-nine years thus undermining Egypt’s sovereignty.
The Brotherhood leadership vehemently denied these accusations.