Well, this is embarrassing. Somebody pushed the record button while high-ranking Egyptian military officials shared their real feelings about the Gulf Arabs who have bailed Egypt’s military government out. As The Financial Times reports:
An audio recording released on Saturday purportedly chronicles Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Egypt’s president, and two deputies deliberating over ways to convince Gulf Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait to cough up billions of dollars in aid.
“There should be no compromises, especially with half-states,” Mr Sisi’s chief of staff, Abbas Kamel, allegedly said, dismissing concerns by a Gulf state that there be some measure of accountability for aid payments to Egypt.
Americans have gotten used to this over the decades: we offer billions in financial aid to governments who pocket the money—and continue to regard us with suspicion and disdain. Now the Gulf is getting a taste of this special form of gratitude.The Pakistanis are more two-faced about it. Nobody is better at hating America, envying America, and undercutting America while pocketing American cash than the Pakistani military. It is a skill that takes decades to develop.It is hard for military patriots in both Egypt and Pakistan to reconcile nationalist military pride with the reality that each country can only get by with the international equivalent of food stamps. In both cases it points to the central failure of decades of military control: the failure to develop a modern and efficient economy that can meet the needs of citizens as well as provide for defense.The current situation in the Middle East is so explosive that the Saudis and their friends are likely to continue doling out the cash. However, we’d advise Egypt’s military leaders to refrain, even in private, from making obscene remarks about the mothers of rich foreign rulers. One never knows when people are listening.