A former member of Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council, Dr. Mohamed Abdullah Al-Zulfa, has praised the decision by Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi to go to the kingdom for his first overseas visit. The decision, said Dr. Al-Zulfa, reflects the nature of the relationship between Cairo and Riyadh, and the importance of coordination between the two states for the future of the Arab world.
Al-Zulfa, who is a history professor at Saudi universities, told the media, “This step reflects the political realism of the Muslim Brotherhood since coming to power in a number of Arab states.” He said that Morsi’s forthcoming trip is evidence that Egypt cannot do without Saudi Arabia and vice versa. “I believe that the Brotherhood in Egypt realises that the two countries have the biggest influence in the region.” The new president’s meeting with King Abdullah will be a meeting of brothers who share a vision, he claimed.
With regards to the apparently new-found realism of the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Zulfa pointed out that Egypt’s major economic problems can’t be solved by the kind of rhetoric used during the revolution and elections, especially on relations with Israel, the US and Iran. “They can be solved, however, through providing bread and butter with dignity, and the schools and hospitals which Egyptians need,” he said. “This is another motive for the pragmatism that the Muslim Brothers have to accept.”
Asked whether the Saudis could have concerns that the Brotherhood could deal with them in a two-faced way, Al-Zulfa said, “I believe that the Brotherhood might practice some sort of Iranian-style political double-speak as it is politically closer to Iran; and maybe there are Brotherhood cells in several Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, but their followers there are a minority.” He stressed his belief that the Saudis have a pioneering interpretation of Islam which makes them “immune” to Muslim Brotherhood penetration.
“The Brotherhood will be compelled to adopt a political pragmatism to put its country’s interests first, and the region’s general interests second,” said Al-Zulfa. “The Saudi regime is strong; Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood have tried to destabilise it but have failed.”