CAIRO — Saudi Arabia has emerged as the foremost supporter of Egypt's military rulers, explicitly backing the violent crackdown on Islamists and using its oil wealth and diplomatic muscle to help defy growing pressure from the West to end the bloodshed in search of a political solution.
As Europeans and the United States considered cutting cash aid to Egypt, Saudi Arabia said Monday that it and its allies would make up any reduction — effectively neutralizing the West's main leverage over Cairo. With Egypt's economy in free fall, the country's authorities might not have survived international outrage at a crackdown that has left as many as 1,000 dead and 4,000 wounded without the deep pockets of its Persian Gulf allies.
In recent days, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has publicly condemned the Muslim Brotherhood, sent field hospitals to Egypt and, in rare public comments, vowed continued support. The foreign minister, Prince Saud Al-Faisal, traveled to Europe, where he pushed back against efforts to punish Egypt's rulers. And Saudi Arabia delivered a blank check to Cairo, promising to shower it with money as needed.
"The kingdom stands with Egypt and against all those who try to interfere with its domestic affairs," King Abdullah said Friday in a televised speech.
Saudi Arabia, which itself is a close ally of Washington, has not only undermined Western efforts to press for compromise, but it also has revealed the diminished U.S. influence across the Arab world.
The Saudis complained bitterly when President Hosni Mubarak, a longtime ally, was forced from power, and even more bitterly when the Muslim Brotherhood emerged as Egypt's primary political force.
"The Saudi monarchy is absolutely afraid of an Islamist-based democracy movement," said Amanda E. Rogers, a lecturer in Arabic at Emory University in Atlanta and a contributor to Muftah, a blog about the Middle East and North Africa.
Even by Saudi standards, its efforts in Egypt stand out. Within a week of the Egyptian military's July 3 takeover, the Saudis had announced a $12 billion rescue package that dwarfs direct military and economic grants from the United States ($1.5 billion) and the European Union ($1.3 billion) combined.