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$20 Billion Qatari Money: Price of “Yes” Vote In Egypt?

By Countercurrents.org

16 December, 2012

One can allege that votes were traded in Egypt’s referendum, and the money is from among others “democracy”-prone Qatar. A renowned Islamic preacher, who is sympathetic to the Egyptian president allured voters with promise of Qatari money. There is also use of knives by the MB supporters and threat of automatic weapons by them. And there is an MB-Israel “love-affair” as an Egyptian columnist coined.

The Qatar-based Egyptian Islamic preacher Youssef Qaradawi called on Egyptians to vote 'yes' in the constitutional referendum, Turkish news agency Anadolu reported on December 14, 2012[1].

Qaradawi, who heads the International Union of Muslim Scholars, said during the Friday prayer’s speech that voting ‘no’ in the polling would cost the country a ‘big loss’ as the attraction of investments will be hampered especially, $20 billion from Qatar.

“I will vote yes, I don’t care about neither [president Mohamed] Morsi nor [MB’s] Freedom and Justice Party, but I do care about Egypt, the greatest Arab country’’ Anadolu quoted Qaradawi as saying.

Qaradawi affirmed that the Muslim Brotherhood want a civil state not a religious as some people claim.

Qaradawi has come under scrutiny of the opposition who deem him as a staunch supporter of Morsi.

From Alexandria another press report [2] said:

Clashes erupted in Alexandria in front of the Qaed Ibrahim mosque and along the nearby area between several thousand opponents and supporters of the draft constitution.

A member of the Central Security Forces told Ahram Online that four bearded men were arrested carrying knives.

Ahram Online's Randa Ali says she saw security forces confiscating knives from a bearded man with an injured head before arresting him.

The fighting erupted following Friday prayers at the Qaed Ibrahim mosque where prominent preacher Ahmed El-Mahalawy urged worshippers to vote 'Yes' in the constitutional referendum.

A man with his head wrapped in bandages, told Ahram Online that after the preacher's statement he had started chanting "down with the rule of the Supreme Guide" from inside the mosque. Five sheikhs then beat him up and two of his friends were being detained inside the mosque by members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The erupted again when anti-constitution protesters were attacked by bearded men, an eyewitness told Ahram Online. Many knives were found inside the men's cars so protesters set the cars on fire, the eyewitness added.

Half the country has voted on the constitution on December 15 while the second half will vote a week later on 22 December.

A follow up report by Mostafa Ali said[3]:

Alexandria's most renowned imam, Ahmed El-Mahalawy, revealed that Friday's clashes at Qaed Ibrahim Mosque, which lasted for hours and left at least 23 injured, could have turned uglier if he had allowed his ''armed' supporters to intervene.

Mahalawy, an ultra-orthodox Islamist and a staunch supporter of president Morsi, earned the wrath of some worshippers as he called for voting 'yes' in the constitutional referendum during his weekly Friday prayers sermon.

Media reports suggested that Muslim Brotherhood supporters held three opponents hostage inside the mosque and assaulted them, thus escalating tensions.

"My sons [supporters] gave me a call and said that they are on their way to save me with automatic weapons, but I told them to wait for my instructions," said Mahalawy during a press conference held at his home on Saturday.

Anti-Mahalawy protesters, angered by the reported attack by his supporters on the three men, held Mahalawy hostage inside the mosque for hours until police managed to escort him out in the late evening hours.

"I would like the Islamist groups all over Egypt to be on stand-by and unite, but we also need to exercise self-restraint," Mahalawy added.

In the background of this corrupting and bullying political scene, Hani Shukrallah, a columnist, wrote in an article [4]:


Egypt was once again making world history; millions of Egyptians across the country were engaged in open popular revolt against the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood, almost literally the mother of all modern political Islamist movements, not least the dread Al-Qaeda …

So remarkable was this new wave of the Egyptian revolution, its reach extended from the heartland of Brotherhood-support in Upper Egypt to Mediterranean Alexandria, which in turn had appeared to have thoroughly renounced its rich cosmopolitan heritage to become the distasteful playground of grim Taliban-like Salafists.

It was, moreover, the first ever popular uprising against a ruling Islamist movement, much wider in scope, intensity and social composition than any of the revolts we’d seen hitherto against the Ayatollahs’ rule in Iran.


For the dictators in waiting, it was proof positive that they were “the authentic” representatives of an overwhelmingly “authentic” population, (“90% of the people,” to quote Mr Morsi, who won the presidential election by a bare 51% of the vote) – all they need do is convince the “West” that, in power, they would make nice with Israel, keep the Greater Middle East safe for the World Bank, IMF and multi-national corporations, and that their often rabid civilization clashing was really confined to domestic “others”, including liberal ninnies, commie agitators, licentious riff-raff such as artists, writers and journalists, and, of course, local Christians, Shiites and Bahaais.

[D]uring those glorious 18 days of Jan-Feb of that year, I would constantly get Western journalists querying me about “the crucial” or “decisive” part Islamists, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, were playing in the revolution. Where they got such certitude I was at a loss to understand, seeing that there were millions on the streets, that you’d be hard pressed to find a single sign or chant in Cairo’s Tahrir or anywhere else in the country calling for the application of Sharia’a or “governance by what God has ordained,” that the revolutionary banner of: Bread, Freedom, Social Justice, had not an ounce of Islamism in it, that Christians and Muslims, women and men, fought together shoulder to shoulder, and that egalitarianism among all Egyptians had been the overriding ethic of the Egyptian revolution.

All too soon, the readiness of the Brotherhood and its Salafist allies coupled to the unpreparedness of the revolutionaries (due to 30 years of the eradication of politics under Mubarak) seemed to bear the deep-seated bias out. The extremely nuanced and complex reality of post revolutionary Egypt would be made to disappear, and the Western media’s coverage of the emergent political landscape in the country would regress into – what I’ve come to call – infantile Orientalism.

Deep-seated bias is only one part of the explanation, however. The second secret to the love affair is much more down to earth, essentially a function of realpolitik. For the US-led Western alliance, the Muslim Brotherhood in power in Egypt proved to be the answer to a prayer.

Notwithstanding all the rhetoric about the liberation of “Islamic Palestine”, Egypt’s new rulers would swear themselves blue in the face that they would uphold the commitment to the peace treaty with Israel, collaborate with the “hated enemy” in fighting terrorists in Sinai, bring in American troops and sophisticated spying equipment into the troubled peninsula’s demilitarized Area C, all the while maintaining “strategic ties” with Washington.
It would take the US/Egypt brokered truce in Gaza, however, to have Western media and pundits drooling over Mr Morsi and his up-and-coming Muslim Brotherhood run and controlled regime. All of a sudden, they discovered that not only was the MB president as compliant as his predecessor on “Israeli security”, but that he was proving a much more effective partner in this respect.

Suddenly, the realization hit home: Here was a democratically elected president (albeit narrowly), backed by “authentic” Islamist Muslims, not only in Egypt but throughout the Greater Middle East, able not only to intimidate and pressure Hamas into “reasonableness”, as Mubarak’s Omar Suleiman was known to do, but to do so in his capacity as Big Brother to the errant Palestinian branch of his movement. A unique and previously unexpected prize of this order was simply too precious to squander, even for the sake of such niceties as basic liberties and human rights.

So precious indeed, that one Israeli political writer suggested only last week that Netanyahu’s Israel might be in the process of making a strategic shift in its attitude to Hamas. Translated from the Hebrew by Media-Clips-Isr, Alex Fishman, writing in Yedioth Aharonot, suggests that under Netanyahu’s leadership Israel was in the process of changing its policy on the Gaza Strip, and that “Instead of toppling Hamas, it wants to give the Hamas regime power so that it will ensure quiet and to push it toward the Sunni, anti-Iranian coalition of Egypt, Qatar and Turkey.” Far-fetched, you might say. Possibly, I admit I haven’t been following Israeli politics as I should, what with domestic Egyptian developments overwhelming time and thought. Yet, very indicative, to say the least.

Rehabilitating Hamas with a view to “safeguarding Israeli security”, as defined by Netanyhau, no less than setting up a regional Sunni coalition against Iran are, it goes without saying, top agenda items in US/European policy in the Middle East.

But there is a more compelling reason for the Western alliance and its media’s love affair with Egypt’s Brotherhood – one of even greater strategic import. For some time now, the US and its allies had come to realize that the rickety, aged and corruption-ridden police states in the region, however servile, were very poor guardians of their vital interests. The Arab Spring seemed to have given rise to a new and ostensibly much more solid foundation on which to anchor these interests. And as predicted by nearly everyone for years, some form of political Islam seemed the only viable alternative at hand.

In Egypt, by far the biggest Arab state and home to Al-Azhar, the very fount-head of Sunni Islam, the Mother of all Islamist movements, the Muslim Brotherhood, had come to power and was ready and able to be the sort of loyal friend and guardian of “vital” Western interests as its predecessors had been, and to do so in a considerably more “legitimate” and effective manner.

Embroiled for the past decade in a seemingly endless and harrowing battle against “terrorism”, specifically against Islamist radicalism, and with Europe increasingly phobic about the “demographic nightmare” of the Muslim “enemy within”, the US and its allies now had a model of the kind of Islamism they could have only dreamed of. By its very existence, such an Egyptian model was bound to undercut the dread radicals and ameliorate the “Islamist threat”, all the way from the heart of Paris to the Qaeda infested hills of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

This veritable treasure was as valuable to hold onto as its opposite, the collapse of such a model, was to be dreaded. Indubitably, such failure would provide a powerful boost to Islamist radicals everywhere, a further argument that Jihad rather than a “Western, Secularist-imported democracy” is the only way forward.

The love affair is thus explained, and as the popular saying goes “Love is blind.”
And yet, here at home, the souls of millions of Egyptians continue to cry out for freedom, come what may.


[1] Ahram Online, “Egypt may lose $20 bln Qatari investments if people vote 'no' for the constitution: Qaradawi”, Dec. 14, 2012, http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/3/12/60504/Business/Economy/Egypt-may-lose--bln-Qatari-investments-if-people-v.aspx

[2] Ahram Online, “Clashes outside Alexandria mosque after imam urges 'Yes' vote in referendum”, Dec. 14, 2012, http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/60480/Egypt/Politics-/Clashes-outside-Alexandria-mosque-after-imam-urges.aspx

[3] Ahram Online, “I kept my disciples from using automatic guns against protesters: Imam Mahalawy”, Dec. 15, 2012, http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/60563/Egypt/Politics-/I-kept-my-disciples-from-using-automatic-guns-agai.aspx

[4] “Western media and the Brotherhood: Secrets behind the love affair”, Dec. 10, 2012, http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContentP/4/60191/Opinion/Western-media-and-the-Brotherhood-Secrets-behind-t.aspx




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