The political developments in Egypt, where the newly elected president Mohammed Morsi is engaged in a bitter dispute with Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi has created new wedges in relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran.Egypt, a Sunni Muslim dominated country has always taken a pro-Saudi stand during the tensions in the Middle East. However, the Saudi officials fear that the election of Morsi, who represents the Tehran-backed Muslim Brotherhood, may change the political game plan in the region, in favour of Iran.
Hosni Mubarak, the former President of Egypt used to be a staunch ally of the KSA. The Salafist political party Al-Nour also seems to be pro-Saudi in its political orientation, but in the recently concluded parliamentary elections, they were beaten to the second place by the pro-Iranian Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) of the Muslim Brotherhood.
As the tensions have soared, Saudi Arabia had closed its embassy in Egypt recently. Meanwhile, Morsi had tried to appease the Saudis, by visiting Riyadh during his first foreign trip and distancing himself from Iran. He has also rejected an invitation from the Iranian officials to visit the country. According to political experts, Morsi seems to have realized that he can’t strain the relations with Saudi Arabia, which is one of the super-powers in the Middle-Eastern region, along with Iran. More than one million Egyptians are thought to be working in Saudi Arabia, some of them illegally.
Another fact which Morsi would have considered is the huge financial clout enjoyed by Saudi Arabia. Egypt is one of the poorest Arab nations, and decades of uncontrolled population growth and lack of availability of farmland have pushed a large part of its population in to poverty. Egypt urgently requires financial assistance from major world powers and Saudi Arabia is being seen as one of the possible donors.