Honestly, folks, isn’t this just lovely…?

US bankrolled anti-Morsi activists

Documents reveal US money trail to Egyptian groups that pressed for president’s removal.

…The State Department’s programme, dubbed by US officials as a “democracy assistance” initiative, is part of a wider Obama administration effort to try to stop the retreat of pro-Washington secularists, and to win back influence in Arab Spring countries that saw the rise of Islamists, who largely oppose US interests in the Middle East. {snip}

‘Bureau for Democracy’

Washington’s democracy assistance programme for the Middle East is filtered through a pyramid of agencies within the State Department. Hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars is channeled through the Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL), The Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), USAID, as well as the Washington-based, quasi-governmental organisation the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

In turn, those groups re-route money to other organisations such as the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute (NDI), and Freedom House, among others. Federal documents show these groups have sent funds to certain organisations in Egypt, mostly run by senior members of anti-Morsi political parties who double as NGO activists.

The Middle East Partnership Initiative – launched by the George W Bush administration in 2002 in a bid to influence politics in the Middle East in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks – has spent close to $900m on democracy projects across the region, a federal grants database shows.

USAID manages about $1.4bn annually in the Middle East, with nearly $390m designated for democracy promotion, according to the Washington-based Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED).

The US government doesn’t issue figures on democracy spending per country, but Stephen McInerney, POMED’s executive director, estimated that Washington spent some $65m in 2011 and $25m in 2012. He said he expects a similar amount paid out this year…

So, Cui Bono…?

Morsi’s fall in Egypt comforts Saudis, disconcerts Qatar

The $12 billion in aid Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait offered Egypt this week showed their delight at the army’s ousting of President Mohamed Morsi in a reversal for Islamists empowered by the Arab ferment of 2011.

It also marked a recalibration of power among Gulf Arab states which, with the notable exception of Qatar, had viewed the Arab uprisings as catastrophic for regional stability and feared the Muslim Brotherhood would use its domination of Egypt to push a radical, Islamist agenda in their own backyard.

Qatar, however, saw support for the Muslim Brotherhood as a means to project its influence in the Middle East, and gave Egypt $7 billion in aid during the movement’s year in power.

“I suspect the Qataris will draw back somewhat,” said Robert Jordan, a former U.S. ambassador to Riyadh. “Their infatuation with the Muslim Brotherhood has probably been dampened. They’re likely to come around to a position closer to the Saudis.”

Saudi Arabia in particular was alarmed by the popular unrest that toppled Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and Tunisia’s Zein al-Abidine Ben Ali, and rippled through Bahrain, Yemen and other countries.

But most Gulf rulers had fewer qualms about rebellions against Libya’s leader Muammar Gaddafi and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, whose links with Shi’ite Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement had long antagonised U.S.-backed Sunni Arab states.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which has challenged Riyadh’s traditional leadership in recent years, were broadly aligned on support for rebels in Syria and Libya, but they bitterly disagreed over their attitude to Islamist groups. Now that argument appears to be over – at least for now…

From the Angry Arab…

Qatar in retreat

Aljazeera after the coup is almost dead. And the editor-in-chief of Al-Quds Al-Arabi, Abdul-Bari Atwan, has just resigned without explaining the reasons as he had promised on Twitter. House of Saud will now take full control of all Arab media. From bad to worse.

Now, here’s an interesting new wrinkle on Saudi intentions… Saudis may be targeting Iran, Israel with new missile program…

Meanwhile, right next door to the House of Saud, and home to the US 5th Fleet… Al Khalifa regime to collapse soon…

In wrapping up, Turkey is on the wrong side of history…

…So the simplistic assumption that being Islamic is enough to unify all Muslims in one “ummah” is shattered. This assumption actually started to crumble with Syria first, where Islam was seen not to be enough to unify people under a single umbrella. One could argue, of course, that the reasons for the sectarianism in Syria go back centuries and the outbreak of a civil war along the Alevi-Sunni line in that country should not have come as a surprise to anyone.

But Ankara misjudged the situation by hardly paying any attention to historical tensions that exist between rival communities in Syria based on sectarian and religious affinities.

It chose instead to demonize Bashar al-Assad – which is of course not hard to do given his brutal and ruthless nature – while overlooking the fact that large number of non-Sunni Syrians actually support al-Assad and his regime.

Turkey’s Syria policy also drove a wedge between Ankara and Tehran, because the two countries are backing opposing sides in the Syrian civil war, and worsened the already-tense relations between Ankara and Baghdad following Iraqi accusations of Turkish meddling in that country to promote Sunni interests. Ankara’s Syria policy has also resulted in gaining a new Islamic enemy for Turkey in the form of the region’s Shiites, and most notably Lebanese Hezbollah.

Now we see a new crisis looming for Turkey’s policy toward the region, with Saudi Arabia leading those standing on the opposite side of the fence from Ankara on Egypt. While Islam was seen, as a result of Syria, not to be the unifying religion that AKP circles assumed, Sunni Islam is also proving to be insufficient in doing this, given the radically different positions that Ankara and Riyadh have taken on the Egyptian coup.

Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu will, of course, still try to influence the events in Egypt in line with their own political expectations. It is very unlikely, however, that they will make much headway now that major Arab powers have stepped in to shape the Middle East in line with their own expectations, and not those of a country like Turkey that is ultimately an outsider for Arabs, and one that has not endeared itself to everyone in the region, Shiite, Sunni or otherwise.

What a Clusterf*ck…! *gah*