An Agenda that would Reshape the Regional Landscape

Riyadh – On his first official visit since taking office in January, US President Donald Trump will arrive in Riyadh on Saturday to take part in three successive summits, in the presence of leaders of Saudi Arabia, Gulf States, and the Arab and Islamic world.

Sources involved with the preparations told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the outcome of the three summits would pave the way for reshaping the landscape in the Middle East, on the basis of extensive partnership between the US and its regional allies.

Sources expected an agreement to be reached over the formation of an Arab-Islamic-US partnership to counter terrorism and extremism, on the security, political and intellectual levels. They added that Washington would assume a greater role in restricting Iran’s policies of destabilization.

As for the unprecedented Arab-Islamic-US Summit, the sources stressed that it would provide “an overarching umbrella to resume the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians”.

The period that will follow the three summits will mark the end of an era that began with the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s regime, the US withdrawal from Iraq and the eclipse of an Arab role in regional tensions, according to the sources.

They also noted that the United States, in partnership with its allies, would regain its central role in several regional cases, mainly the war against terrorism that would encompass the security, political, financial and intellectual dimensions. This war would be launched in parallel with cultural and economic initiatives targeting the youth in the Arab and Islamic world.

Consolidating partnerships between the US and the Gulf would restore power balance in the Middle East and put an end to Iran’s expansionism projects, the sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.

They added that the Arab-Islamic-US Summit would correct the former US Administration’s policies of stalling and shy initiatives, which have opened the way for Russia to have a greater influence in the region.

The Fatimid Brotherhood

Those busiest in Egypt today are the lawyers and the judiciary, in light of the rapid pace in which successive court rulings are being issued for a variety of different cases, particularly those involving past supporters and affiliates of the Hosni Mubarak regime. Intriguingly, the Egyptian judiciary has recently set about releasing the former officials who formed the backbone of the former regime, such as Ahmad Fathi Sorour, Safwat El-Sherif, Zakaria Azmi, Sameh Fahmi, and so on. Today, the Egyptian people anticipate that a ruling will be issued in less than two weeks overturning the sentence against former president Hosni Mubarak, imprisoned for killing demonstrators. Many are expecting that Mubarak will be declared innocent and be released.

Some influential lawyers in Egypt are now talking of a legal way out: The current regime is well aware that President Mursi “in theory and in practice” could be prosecuted for the same charge of killing demonstrators that Mubarak was prosecuted for. Indeed, Egypt has witnessed the deaths of scores of people in various scenes and situations under Mursi. Thus, today the regime is keen to close old files that have only wasted precious time and opened up new fronts, and is seeking to rearrange its priorities.

Perhaps the strangest of the regime’s current priorities is its political rapprochement with Iran. It is unclear whether the Mursi regime’s recent inclination towards Iran comes in response to the promised economic carrot of considerable Iranian investments and tourism, which Egypt is in desperate need of, or whether it is merely an act to provoke the Gulf states, which have adopted preemptive stances and are harboring doubts about the Muslim Brotherhood’s political positions.

I asked an experienced Egyptian politician in a bid to understand the Muslim Brotherhood’s position towards Iran in particular. He brushed off the significance of recent events, stating that “it is a matter of two guides sounding each other out.” Yet, when reading between the lines, I could not help but feel deeply concerned about the intentions and agendas of the two sides, and how in their case, the end seems to justify the means. Iran is yearning for Fatimid Egypt, and is seeking to revive it in its own manner, style, intellect, and culture. The Brotherhood want to benefit from Iran’s desire to dominate Egypt and occupy the heart of the Arab world, and they are exploiting this greed to fund their own plans and projects whether in Egypt or abroad. This is a highly suspicious partnership that goes beyond normal limitations. This ‘rapprochement’, being conducted for all the wrong reasons, will have a negative impact on several regional issues and relations, and will further increase the overall state of concern, tension, and fear. Some parties are only too happy for the situation to develop in this way, because it will help them to accomplish their private goals and aspirations.

Difficult days lie ahead, and we must be aware of what is going on.