A second Cold War is brewing in the Middle East, and it was sparked under buried headlines about a month ago.
On Oct. 8, the United Nations failed to adopt resolutions on how to aid the Syrian conflict. One resolution was presented by France and Spain and the other by the Russian Federation.
As US News described, the “Western” solution calls to end air strikes and bombardments over Aleppo and to aid in unobstructed humanitarian access throughout the country, as well as make Syrian authorities implement the previous resolutions of the Security Council. The Russian solution demanded that there should be no material or financial support reaching groups that associate with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria or Al-Qaida.
The most controversial aspect of the vote itself was not the fact that no solutions were passed but that Egypt decided to back Russia’s resolution to the conflict in Syria.
Egypt is the only member of the socially constructed Arab world in the Security Council, and its vote supporting Russia caused outcries on social media that called the vote anti-Arab and disloyal. The vote also gained Egypt an enemy: Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia was the only friend that supported Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s rocky administration. The economic relationship between Egypt and Saudi Arabia — which pumped more than $25 billion into the waning Egyptian economy — was the only thing that kept Egypt from turmoil. After the vote, however, Saudi Arabia stopped contributing to Egypt’s economy by postponing a shipment of 700,000 tons of discounted oil in October. The slow embargo on Egyptian aid is causing inflation to rise and is furthering the disconnect between the Egyptian people and their president.
The Daily News Egypt calls this tension another Cold War. The title is appropriate because it is a war of words and economies being fought between traditional Arab thought and the constructed notion that the Arab world needs help from imperialist countries to stay afloat.
Saudi Arabia — as well as most Arab countries — seems to be tired of not only Russian influences in the Arab world but also the lack of true Arab representation in the U.N. Security Council, something that is being voiced by Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic hostility toward Egypt. Granted, Saudi Arabia does have a big brother–like force in the Arab world and has had the reputation of aiding terrorist organizations, but it does have the right to believe in the sovereignty of its own region.