There will be no Arab renaissance without Saudi Arabia, and no such thing as Arabs without Egypt.
Without Egypt, which is the wedge that prevents the collapse of Arab countries, many Arab countries would return to a state of tribalism, rivalry and warring clans.
Without Saudi Arabia, which the leveraging force of the Arab region, we would remain weak, begging for grants and loans from the powerful and living on the generosity of others.
I have asked before: what is it that we need? We need to recognise the common threats, because in reality, we as Arabs face common and identical threats.
The Saudi monarch and Egyptian president are aware of the dangerous predicament facing Arab nations. We are facing a new Sykes-Picot agreement, whether literally or figuratively. This division is imminent, whether undertaken by powers thousands of miles away from the region or by groups of people whose interests are in conflict with local or regional powers. The demands of these groups may be legitimate on the human level, but they could be exploited by larger groups to achieve different ends, without their knowledge.
Both leaders are aware that the Arab nation is witnessing a threat no less critical or perilous than the artificial drawing out of the Middle East’s boundaries that took place a hundred years ago. The colonisers came to an accord at the time to allow France to seize the Maghreb, while England would subsume Egypt and Sudan. They also agreed that the former Ottoman provinces would be divided into two areas of influence, so that Syria and Lebanon were controlled by France, while Iraq was controlled by England, and so on.
There is a regional danger, and only the naive are capable of ignoring it—this danger has been named by the King of Jordan as the “Shi’a Crescent”, stretching from Iran to the eastern region in Saudi Arabia, including Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Indeed, Arabs are at their weakest point. The Arab world was not even formally coherent before 2011. The tenuousness of our countries and societies become evident to those who wish us ill, and view us as easy prey in their plans to redraw our boundaries.
There are now four Arab countries that have effectively collapsed and become quasi-states with shadow diplomatic entities and governments unable to control their security and borders, such as the occupied Palestine, the divided Lebanon, the forgotten Somalia and the threatened Sudan. There are four other countries facing the same destiny: Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen.
These powers want us to continue fighting each other and dividing up, and whenever a truce or settlement is imminent, they will do whatever they can to fuel the fighting even more.
Moataz Bellah Abdel-Fattah is an Egyptian professor of political science. He previously served as an adviser to the prime minister of Egypt, and professor of political science at both Cairo University and Central Michigan University.