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PRESIDENT OBAMA, a White House aide said Friday, wants “stability” in Egypt but believes “that stability ultimately is going to be best served by Egypt following through on its commitment to transition to free and fair elections and democratic governance.” In theory that put him at odds with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, who in the name of stability has put billions behind the regime of Gen. Abdel Fatah al-Sissi since it staged a coup against the democratically elected government of Mohamed Morsi in July.

In practice, the U.S.-Saudi differences looked irrelevant in light of Gen. Sissi’s announcement that he intends to be a candidate for president. The general’s move virtually ensures that Egypt will be neither democratic nor stable — even though both Saudi Arabia and the Obama administration may go on backing him.

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