Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Dr. Mursi in Jeddah | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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By the time you read these lines President Dr. Mohammed Mursi will have had dinner at the table of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques in Jeddah, visited Mecca, and then met with Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz.

The first visit outside the country for Egypt’s first civil elected president is to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, thus giving the impression that Cairo, and the new regime, recognizes the importance and prioritizes relations with Riyadh.

In order for this visit to go beyond its protocol nature, and to develop from a state of welcome and courtesy to a display of genuine sentiments of friendliness between the two countries and people, we can identify a set of governing principles that, if adhered to, can be the foundations for a successful relationship.

Firstly: confidence must be inspired in the personal relationship between the new regime in Egypt and the Saudi leadership.

Secondly: the most fundamental element of trust in a personal relationship is “credibility” when it comes to promises, in the sense that the Saudi leadership should promise only what it can fulfill, and there is no problem with saying frankly and clearly: This is what I am able to achieve with you now, and this is what I am not able to.

Perhaps there is a history lesson to be learned from the false promises made by Dr. Bashar al-Assad to the Saudi leadership, which have brought the relationship between Riyadh and Damascus to the edge of its current abyss.

Thirdly: One must always keep in mind that the relationship between Cairo and Riyadh is a unique relationship that combines the strength of emotional bonding with the strength of common interests.

There are countries such as India that have ties to Egypt based on emotional sentiments and history more than interests.

On the other hand, Egypt’s relations with the US are based on interests, but they are free from emotional sentiments because of the US’s position of complete support towards Israel.

In the case of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, there are emotional elements such as historical and geographical ties and the Egyptians’ love for Islam’s holy sites. Then there are the considerable interests between the two that have resulted in 1.7 million Egyptians working in Saudi Arabia and 700,000 Saudis residing permanently in Egypt, making the relationship a unique case combining links of passion and material interest together.

As for security coordination between Cairo and Riyadh, this is a fundamental issue in order to form a shared vision for issues such as Gulf security and the stances of Iran and the Arab world after the “Arab Spring” revolutions.

Dr. Mohammed Mursi’s success in developing clear and transparent rules on his visit to Saudi Arabia will be very important for this strategic relationship in the future. Therefore we hope that Dr. Mursi has a successful, open and transparent founding visit.