Rocky Egypt-Saudi Relationship Strengthens

In his first foreign trip since being elected last month, Egypt’s President Mohammed Mursi paid a visit to King Abudullah and Saudi Arabia on Thursday, seeking to repair relations with the Kingdom following several months of diplomatic conflict. The trip also sent a signal to Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) that the new president would respect the traditional alliance between the military and the Saudis who have given strong political and economic support to the generals in the past. This is important as Mursi continues his climb down from his ill-advised confrontation with SCAF and the nation’s courts over the recall of Parliament — dissolved by SCAF following a court decision that invalidated a third of the outcomes in the election last year.

Mursi now says he wants “consultations” with all those concerned and has specifically said that he will obey the court’s decision on Tuesday that invalidated his decree re-opening parliament. While in Jeddah for talks with the king, Saudi officials offered to mediate the constitutional dispute between Mursi and the generals if the Egyptians request it.

Another purpose of the trip was to assure Gulf states that any outreach by Egypt to Iran would not threaten the Saudis. Egypt is one of only three states — Israel and the US are the other two — who do not have relations with Tehran. Mursi needs Saudi Arabia far more than he needs the Iranians and the president is returning home with promises of more economic aid to bolster Egypt’s sagging economy. While there have been tentative feelers to Iran put out by the Egyptian government, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has invited Mursi to Tehran, the president’s Saudi trip sends a clear signal that the Islamists will likely not be receptive....

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