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Egypt’s Brotherhood Changing Everything | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Thousands of Egyptian protesters shout slogans supporting Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, his poster at center, during a rally outside Cairo University in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Feb. 15, 2013. AP Photo/Amr Nabil

Where do Egyptian-Gulf relations now stand, particularly in light of the visit paid by a high-level Egyptian official to Iran and the signing of significant economic agreements which are unprecedented in terms of scope? What is the future of Cairo’s relations with the GCC in view of the continuing openness and rapprochement between Egypt and Iran, especially as diplomatic relations between the two countries had been suspended for over thirty years?

Likewise, and on an even grander scale, cooperation with Iraq has been promoted in larger sectors and with even more attractive privileges. It is well-known that relations between GCC member states, on the one hand, and both Iran and Iraq, on the other are sensitive and strained, not to mention relations between Iran and Iraq themselves.

Recently, it has been no secret that Gulf investments in Egypt have fallen subject to a number of claims and judgments which some consider abnormal and provocative. This has incited a number of concerns which have reflected on the economic relations between Egypt and GCC member states. However numerous reassurances and positive statements issued during bilateral political meetings have failed to have the desired impact. In view of the on-going state of excessive “political fluidity” in Egypt, the Gulf States have been an easy target for the combative political parties. At times, the Gulf States have been accused of backing the Muslim Brotherhood or funding the extremist Salafists. They have even been accused of championing the remnants of Mubarak’s ousted regime. This has taken place in the midst of a tense political climate where it seems as if everybody is searching for an “enemy” or “scarecrow”, and of course the Gulf States are the most open to such accusations.

However new accusations have now been leveled by both the Egyptian stock exchange and the Prosecutor-General against a group of Saudi businessmen (along with a group of Egyptian businessmen). From the timing and manner of this announcement, some are of the view that the Egyptian government wants to send a message to the GCC States, particularly the economic sectors there, informing them that the situation has changed and that relations with Egypt will not be as they were in the past. This is a very serious message, particularly in light of the tense conditions in the region.

The UAE, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia in particular, will be affected the most by these new Egyptian policies due to the nature of their major long-term investments in the country. The ruling Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt have a turbulent and difficult relationship with the GCC and its member-states, as everybody knows. The Brotherhood view their relations with all other parties within the framework of their own organization and ideology; they want to see all other countries following the same approach and logic, and working towards achieving the same objectives and goals. Other states, however, want popular and fraternal relations based on mutual respect as well as monitoring the present circumstances and appreciating others. Differences in viewpoints and vision engender crisis, and unfortunately this is precisely the situation that we are experiencing today.