The Middle East reacts to Brexit

Posted by Caabu on 28 Jun 2016

There have been mixed reactions from the Middle East since the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. This includes both official congratulations on the outcome of the vote to derision. There appears to be a general consensus in the Arab media that the vote will lead to the further disintegration of the Union.

Gulf States

The Foreign Ministry of Oman, a long-time ally of Britain has praised Britain's “courageous”decision to leave the European Union on its Twitter page. With oil prices dropping in the wake of Britain's decision,Salim bin Nasser al Aufi, of the Omani Ministry of Oil and Gas allayed fears that Oman crude will be hit badly due to the contagion caused by Brexit.

Bahrain has said that it looks forward to further cooperation with Britain and expressed the government’s “trust in the United Kingdom”.

Qatar has also reiterated its strong relationship with the UK, in a tweet by the Qatari ambassador to Britain, Yousef Al-Khater.

Saudi reactions have included business leaders happy with the vote. National Commercial Bank’s (NCB) group Chief Economist Said Al-Shaikh, said it was good news for Saudi imports, which will now be cheaper. The financial services in Saudi Arabia have also downplayed the impact of Brexiton their banks.

Lebanon

Economists in Lebanon have said that Britain’s departure from the EU is likely to have a positive short term effect on the Lebanese economy, reducing EU import bills. The Lebanese pound is pegged to the US dollar and thus the decline in value of the euro as a result of Brexit will decrease the price of imports from the European Union.

Jordan

The Jordanian Cabinet has announced that it will be investigating the possible impact of the vote on the Hashemite Kingdom. It has given the Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs and Minister of Industry, Trade and Supply Jawad Ananithe task of preparing a comprehensive report on the repercussions of Brexit, especially because Jordan has “solid relations with the UK on a bilateral level and previously on EU level”

Egypt

Egypt's stock market plunged 5.8% on 26 June in response to Britain's decision to leave the European Union, underperforming other major Middle East markets.

However, Naeem Brokerage, an investment firm, says the extent of the downside should be limited. Its analysts have said that a weaker euro and pound should be positive, given the Egyptian economy is import driven with a sizable exposure to the EU.

Iran

An official statement from the Iranian Foreign Ministry stated its respect for “the British people's vote on leaving the European Union". The statement then asserted that the vote would not have an impact on Iran’s relationship with Britain. The ministry has reaffirmed its wish to expand relations with all European countries“on the basis of mutual respect and non-interference in the internal affairs of each other”.

Dr Hamid Aboutalebi,Deputy Chief of Staff for Political Affairsto President Rouhani, called the vote a "big earthquake" that would be part of the "domino" collapse of the EU. He also described the decision as a “historic opportunity” for Iran, without elaborating on that statement at the present moment.

A senior commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, Massoud Jazayeri, described the decision as retribution "years of colonialism and crimes against humanity". He called it the start of Britain's fight to free itself from American dominance and said that independence from American influence was the only way to protect the remaining EU countries. Jazayeri also supported calls for the separation of other countries from Britain, asserting that “the people of Scotland and other countries have the right to leave the yoke of monarchy of the so-called Great Britain.”

Turkey

The Turkish president,  Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has hailed Britain's departure as the “beginning of a new era”, saying that the EU could face further break-up if it does not reconsider its stance towards Turkey. On the 24 June, he blasted the EU's attitude towards Turkey as "islamophobic". He also criticised David Cameron for his stance on Turkey during his ‘Remain’ campaign, when he said Turkey was unlikely to enter the EU ‘until the year 3000’.

Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim also admonished Cameron for what he described as a campaign against Turkeyand said that the EU needed to embrace more inclusive policies. His foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, said the EU's enlargement and integration policies had been a failure.

One of Turkey’s deputy prime minister, Nurettin Canikli, stated on Twitter his belief that “The fragmentation process of the EU has started. Britain was the first to abandon ship”.  Another Deputy PM, Mehmet Şimşek, described the decision as the opening of Pandora’s Box.

Israel

The official Israeli reaction to Brexit has been subdued.  Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu has said that that he has been in contact with officials from the Finance Ministry and Bank of Israel to discuss the possible implications of Brexit on Israel. He has concluded that "there is no direct effect on Israel, apart from the fact that we are part of the global economy".

Netanyahu has also expressed his sadness to see the resignation of David Cameron, whom he described as "a true friend of Israel and the Jewish people."

Regional Media

In the news, The Lebanese Al-Nahardeclared that "Europe will not be the same", while the Saudi daily Okazsays it could give the Gulf Cooperation Council more investment opportunities in Britain.

Conversely, Kuwait's newspaper Al-Rai doubtsthat Brexit "will have any effect" as "it is none of our business”.

Anshel Pfeffer, who described voting to leave as the “most un-Jewish thing you can do”, wrote after the results of the referendum in Israel's Haaretzthat the Brexit vote was a “vote against the world”.