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WASHINGTON – Although Saudi Arabia had good relations for more than 30 years with Egypt under now-ousted President Hosni Mubarak, the kingdom is warily watching political developments in Cairo as the Muslim Brotherhood shows increasing strength, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
As a consequence, Egypt is leaning more toward a strategic relationship with Iran. Closer Egyptian ties with Iran also were underscored by Egyptian parliamentary member Mohamed Abu Hamed, who resigned recently from the Free Egyptians Party, or FEP, which has enthusiastically embraced closer strategic relations with Tehran even though it opposes the Brotherhood.
The Free Egyptian Party was formed last year in the aftermath of the ouster of Mubarak. It has swiftly risen in popularity in opposition to the Freedom and Justice Party, or FJP of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The FEP, regarded as more liberal, democratic and secular politically, is dedicated to promoting economic and social development.
“I think that there is no obstacle in this regard of expanding strategic relations with Iran,” Hamed said.
Under Mubarak, the Brotherhood was illegal. The Saudis are concerned about the Brotherhood because it seeks to establish Islamic rule that would replace the Saudi Arabian monarchy.
Now, Hamed of the FEP, while opposed to the Brotherhood, as are the Sunni Saudis, welcomes a strategic tie with Shia Iran, a position which the Saudis oppose.
During Mubarak’s presidency, Egypt’s ties with Iran also were severed. In welcoming closer relations with Iran, Hamed has criticized Egypt’s relations with Israel.
In what appears to be a cross-spectrum of political sentiment in Egypt as a result of the ouster of Mubarak, there appears to be a desire to normalize ties with Tehran, believing that resumption of relations between the two Muslim countries will remove many controversies and differences.
“Rapprochement with Iran is not just a strategic issue with mere political roots, but I believe companionship with Iran would lead to the settlement of many disagreements and differences,” said Ayman Nour, chairman of the el-Ghad, or Future party.
“Although there are also international sensitivities, Egypt’s actual interests depend on resumption and normalization of these ties, which means investment and utilization of the two sides’ capabilities and regional cooperation, while respecting each other’s specific interests,” he said.
While the other Arab countries in the region are concerned about the growing influence of Iran, especially its ties to their Shi’ite minorities, Nour said that his party is not afraid of Iran’s role and influence in the region.
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