Wednesday’s opening of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Summit in Egypt has been the opportunity for Iranian’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to visit President Mohammed Morsi of Egypt and to have been received warmly — presumably as a prelude for further thaw in the relations between these two countries.
Both of these presidents are facing serious internal challenges. Ahmadinejad — to his presidency, and will possibly be opposed by a figure closer to the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. And Morsi, in the last few weeks, has been facing growing opposition and a weakening of his popular appeal. And, his flawed response to dealing with the opposition foreclosed, at least temporarily, any consequential dialogue between the opposition and Morsi.
These two weakened presidents perceive the summit conference of the OIC as a welcome opportunity to reinforce their standing. There is no doubt that both presidents seek mutual reinforcement of their stature in their respective countries. However, there is no guarantee that the occasion of the OIC Summit Conference will enhance their respective future political legitimacy.
Clovis Maksoud is a former ambassador and permanent observer of the League of Arab States at the United Nations and its chief representative in the United States for more than 10 years. Maksoud served as the League of Arab States' ambassador to India and Southeast Asia from 1961 to 1966 as well as the League of Arab States' special envoy to the United States in 1974. As a journalist, Maksoud was senior editor of the daily Al-Ahram in Cairo and editor-in-chief of Al-Nahar, an Arabic-language weekly published in Beirut. He is the author of several books on the Middle East and developing countries.