The Gulf States’ Assistance to Egypt after the 2011 Revolution: Logic, Dynamics, Systemic Impact

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Abstract


The current decade has seen a growing role of the Gulf States (Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar) in global aid architecture as a result of the Arab Awakening. The largest packages of assistance have been provided by this group of donors to Egypt, which followed an especially tortuous path, shaped by the factor of political Islam. This paper examines the logic, dynamics and the role of such assistance in Egypt’s tumultuous history after 2011. It consists of four sections - each depicting a particular phase of the post-revolutionary period and containing an in-depth study of the logic of and linkages between the GCC members’ donor initiatives as well as an assessment of their influence on the domestic and external policies of consecutive Egyptian administrations and the behavior of extraregional actors. The general conclusion is drawn that during each of four stages the Gulf States’ actions played a pivotal role in Egypt’s turbulent development. Contrary to a widespread belief in predominance of cultural and religious solidarity in Arab donors’ aid-giving, they mastered foreign assistance as a tool of statecraft as aptly as established donors, while often restructuring it in response to the changes on the ground and/or economic environment. An increased role of the GCC members in Egypt’s fate is explained not only by their growing ambitions and capabilities but also by an excessive cautiousness of the Western countries. In comparison with the latter group - the Arab donors, which did not demand any improvements in quality of governance from the Egyptian authorities and acted very swiftly and decisively, looked as much more reliable partners. Their growing impact forced the established donors to turn a blind eye to the defects of Egypt’s political system or economic governance in order to avoid a complete loss of influence. This interdependence between the behavior of the Western and Arab donors reveals a trend, which deserves a more scrupulous examination on a wider selection of country cases.


About the authors

Vladimir Igorevich Bartenev

Lomonosov Moscow State University

Author for correspondence.
Email: vladimir.bartenev@fmp.msu.ru
Moscow, Russian Federation

PhD in History, Associate Professor, Director of the Center for Security and Development Studies, School of World Politics

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