Last week, a Turkish-based satellite channel with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood released a recording of a phone conversation between Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and two high-ranking Egyptian officials. The phone recordings allegedly took place in early 2014, when Sisi was the nation’s defense minister, prior to becoming president.
The voices on the recording discuss ways of getting money out of the Gulf Arab states and Saudi Arabia without public knowledge. The conversations include insulting language and derogatory statements towards the countries, calling them “half-states” living “a fancy life and hav[ing] piles of money.” Another comment says they have “money like rice” and suggests that Egypt should have a share of it “like the Americans.”
The TV station, Mekameleen, which sided with the Muslim Brotherhood during the 2013 revolution in Egypt, suggested that the recordings would imperil Sisi’s relationship with Saudi Arabia. The station had even broadcast appeals to the rulers of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, urging them to listen to the broadcast of the recordings.
Within days of broadcast, however, the attempt to discredit Sisi with the Gulf Arabs had clearly backfired.
The day after the recordings aired, Gulf leaders issued statements of support for Sisi and Egypt. King Salman, the new monarch of Saudi Arabia, said in a statement that his country’s support of Sisi was “unchangeable” and that nothing could harm the “strategic and exemplary links” between the two nations.
While relations between Egypt and Qatar remain cool, given that country’s financial support of the Muslim Brotherhood, other Gulf states expressed support similar to Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia went beyond the public statement in its show of support for the Sisi-led Egyptian government. On Tuesday, just days after the phone leaks, Saudi Arabia, by royal pardon, released all Egyptian prisoners from its jails.
In granting the royal pardon, King Salman even said that he considered Egypt his “second hometown” and that he would participate in the upcoming economic conference in Egypt next month.
If anything, the leaked phone conversations appear to have strengthened Egyptian President Sisi’s relations with the Gulf Arab states. It could be a sign of how weak the Muslim Brotherhood’s position in the region is.
It could also be a slap at the United States.
Mostafa el-Gindy, a senior Egyptian statesmen, told Breitbart News this week that he believes the phone recordings were obtained by American intelligence services. Gindy said he believes the U.S. made the secret recordings and passed them on to the Muslim Brotherhood. The U.S., under the direction of the Obama administration, has struggled to find a coherent policy for the revolutionary changes to Egypt’s government.
Whether or not the U.S. government was involved is almost beside the point. The Middle East is undergoing a rapid realignment in interests. Despite the intentions of those behind the leaked recordings, Egypt and the Gulf nations seem to have formed a very strong axis of power.