Saudi-Egyptian relations top the headlines of Arab newspapers on Wednesday, following the first foreign visit of Egyptian interim President Adly Mansour to Saudi Arabia this week.
“Saudi Crown Prince: Egypt is in safe hands, and its people have shown us they can overcome their crises,” reads the headline of Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat, featuring a photo of Mansour standing next to Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz.
The daily then quotes words of praise by King Abdullah II of Jordan, Mansour’s second destination.
Khalid bin Sultan, a Saudi prince responsible for water, tells London-based daily Al-Hayat that “water is much more important than oil.”
Speaking at an international conference on water in Budapest, Hungary, bin Sultan said that Saudi Arabia has the scarcest water resources in the region and is therefore deeply interested in water issues.
“We believe that the greatest danger threatening Saudi Arabia in the future will be lack of water,” the prince said.
Meanwhile in Egypt, domestic unrest continues to foment with partisan media covering events in typically shrill tones following a government decision to withdraw the license from the Muslim Brotherhood as a civil society organization.
“Egypt’s former Mufti supports the killing of protesters,” reads the headline of a TV reports in Al-Jazeera, a pro-brotherhood news channel based in Qatar.
The report features video excerpts from a speech delivered by former top cleric Ali Gomaa in which he calls for shooting protesters, a speech delivered in the presence of top military commander and defense minister Abdel Fattah el-Sissi.
“Strike at them, and do not sacrifice your soldiers for those heretics,” Gomaa told the audience of military and police officers.
Al-Ahram, Egypt’s establishment daily, reports that the minister of social welfare has decided to “dissolve the Muslim Brotherhood association completely.”
Meanwhile, Egyptian columnist Mohammed Shuman expresses concern over the mass popularity enjoyed by General el-Sissi among the Egyptian public.
“The place of the army in Egypt’s history, nostalgia for a benevolent dictator, the search for security and stability and the power of the state, all these elements are pushing most Egyptians to accept Field Marshal Abdel Fattah el-Sissi as president. As a result, any possibility for a civilian candidate or one with military credentials is almost nil; it is certain that [El-Sissi] is able to take the first round of the presidential race with a large margin,” he writes Wednesday in Al-Hayat.
“The public and the majority of political and intellectual elites support a general who has not announced his intention to run for office, and has not presented a political program nor outlined his economic or political vision for Egypt’s future. Most Egyptians do not know much about el-Sissi’s personality or his history, yet they support him for president. This means that the majority is still far from the minimum bar of democratic values … no doubt this will lead to the emergence of a dictator who will not necessarily be benevolent.”
A-Sharq Al-Awsat columnist Abdul Rahman Rashed remarks on the failure of the Muslim Brotherhood to win over the sympathy of Arab countries in their struggle for legitimacy.
“The Brotherhood tried and failed to have Arab and international public opinion identify with them. They have nothing left but Qatar in the Arab world, losing most Western countries which supported them at first.”
“It is clear that the current Egyptian regime has decided to retaliate against the Brotherhood forcefully, using political and security propaganda against them and besieging the movement financially. Clearly, the Brotherhood has not recovered from the shock of the June 30 demonstrations which led to its easy ouster with wide popular support. In the absence of the Brotherhood, the current government is quickly finalizing the constitution, holding elections, and taking the presidency for the coming four years.”