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Tension between Cairo and Riyadh escalates over Brotherhood in Syria and Yemen

Official sources in Egypt have said that Cairo has conveyed to Riyadh its concern over what it describes as "an exaggeration" in opening up to the Muslim Brotherhood in the Arab world and "attempts to rely on the group in resolving the crisis" in Yemen and containing the situation in Syria. This, claims the Egyptian regime, will definitely lead to adverse consequences for regional stability; once the Brotherhood seizes the reins of government in certain Arab countries with the help of Saudi Arabia it will not stop there but will seek to seize control over all Arab capitals.

"Saudi Arabia itself," said one source, "despite its tight internal security policy, may find itself facing a new predicament associated with the Brotherhood, just like the other Gulf States. In this regard we have been talking to our brothers in the United Arab Emirates in an attempt to raise the issue quietly within the framework of the Gulf Cooperation Council."

There is widespread dismay within the folds of the Syrian opposition, he added, because of the enhanced communication between Saudi Arabia and the Muslim Brotherhood there in parallel with Turkish military support for Syrian factions affiliated with the movement in one way or another. European diplomatic sources have told Al-Shorouk that the countries they represent have informed Cairo, directly or indirectly, that any vision of the political future of Syria after Assad cannot exclude the Brotherhood in the way that Egypt wants.

According to the same Europeans, it is not possible to expect Saudi Arabia to counter the increasing involvement of Lebanon's Hezbollah in support of Bashar Al-Assad in Syria without Riyadh taking action in order to mobilise what it considers to be the "likely Sunni" alternative. This is a reference to the Sunni forces that are not part of the ISIS umbrella; the Saudis consider the moves by Hezbollah to be a Shia dynamic supported by Iran, Riyadh's arch enemy.

In the meantime, officials in Cairo say that the Egyptian regime has received an unequivocal message about the rise in the level of discomfort among Yemeni factions opposed to the Houthi expansion as a result of the rise in Saudi support for the Brotherhood in the country. He added that leaders of the Yemeni factions have told Cairo of their displeasure with the political prescription that may come out of the ongoing communication between Saudi Arabia and the Islamic movement. "I think that they do not object to allocating a share for the Brotherhood but they can see that Saudi Arabia is heading towards offering the movement a majority and not just a share."

As for the Saudis themselves, according to Arab and Western diplomatic sources they do not intend to change their strategy or ideas regarding Yemen. "With regards to Yemen," said one European ambassador in the Egyptian capital, "we know very clearly that Riyadh is angry because of what it considers to be balking on the part of Cairo and a failure to provide support. The House of Saud does not intend to listen to what the Egyptians have to say. With Syria, the matter may be slightly different, whereby Riyadh will seek to ensure Egyptian support of some kind. It will proceed with formulating something and then will ask Cairo to support it, but it will not move in conjunction with Cairo."

The Egyptian government has told the Saudis that it understands their concern regarding the Iranian expansion "We share some of that concern," said a diplomatic source. "However, at the same time we do not want to confront religious forces with other religious forces."

He acknowledges that Riyadh is accusing Cairo of hindering its moves that are aimed at grouping together political formulations with a Brotherhood base in both Yemen and Syria. "We cannot support the ascension of the Brotherhood to power in any Arab state, however; for us this is a closed case."

Egyptian officials across various sectors keep reiterating the same phrases about the Turkey-Qatar concord intended to boost the ascension of the Muslim Brotherhood to power in as many Arab capitals as possible in what they insist is a move prompted from within some political circles in Washington which want to put Islamists in power. The talk in this regard is focused on the White House and not the State Department.

Translated from Shorouknews, 31 May, 2015

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

AfricaArticleEgyptMiddle EastOpinionSaudi ArabiaSyriaYemen
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