US Deputy NSA Blinken's unannounced visit to UAE to discuss Egypt


US Deputy National Security Advisor Antony Blinken traveled to the United Arab Emirates earlier this week for consultations with Emirati, Iraqi and other Gulf country officials on Egypt, the White House told Al-Monitor.

Blinken in the UAE met with “counterparts from the UAE and neighboring countries to discuss recent developments in the region,” National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden told Al-Monitor in response to a query Wednesday. “I don't have any further details for you on those discussions.”

Blinken was accompanied on the trip by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran  Brett McGurk and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Amos Hochstein.

Among the issues discussed in the meeting were UAE and Gulf assistance to Egypt in the wake of the ouster of Mohammed Morsi.

Egypt’s Central Bank said Thursday that  it had received $3 billion in aid pledged by the UAE in the wake of Morsi’s ouster, Reuters reported.

“The UAE said last week that it would provide Egypt with $1 billion as a grant and a $2 billion loan in the form of an interest-free central bank deposit,” Reuters wrote.In addition, “Saudi Arabia pledged $5 billion and Kuwait, $4 billion.”

A significant portion of the pledged aid from the Gulf states is in the form of oil, petrol and diesel, rather than cash, a western diplomat, speaking not for attribution, told Al-Monitor.

The point for governments like Abu Dhabi and Riyadh opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood is to “show life under the new guys can be better,” the official said of the Gulf aid to post-Morsi Egypt. Egyptians have been frustrated by frequent power outages and long fuel lines.

Blinken’s visit followed a phone call between President Obama and UAE Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nayhan last week.

“The President and Crown Prince affirmed that for Egypt to emerge from this crisis, all Egyptians must come together to find an inclusive path forward,” the White House said in a readout  of the July 9 call. “The President encouraged the UAE to underscore in its engagements with Egyptians the importance of avoiding violence and taking steps to enable dialogue and reconciliation.”

Blinken, who became the deputy national security advisor in January, previously served as national security advisor to Vice President Joe Biden, who led the Obama administration's policy on Iraq. Blinken last month led a meeting with Bahrain''s Crown Prince that President Obama dropped in on.

The White House frequently does not announce travel by national security staff.

(Photo: President Barack Obama drops by Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken's [to Obama's right] meeting with Bahraini Crown Prince and First Deputy Prime Minister Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, June 5, 2013. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)