Despite years of mutual frustration and disappointment over diverging priorities, Saudi Arabia and Egypt remain fundamental to each other’s security, a message King Salman’s visit to Cairo this week is intended to reinforce.
The rare foreign trip by the Saudi ruler will counter media commentary in both countries of discord between the richest Arab state and the most populous, to show Riyadh still backs Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
However, with Iraq, Syria and Yemen immersed in civil war, and Saudi Arabia preoccupied by its own region-wide tussle with Iran, Riyadh is determined to stop the Egyptian state from failing. It will maintain some aid despite its own tighter budgets from falling global oil prices, analysts say.
That position contrasts with Riyadh’s approach to Lebanon, from which Gulf states have pulled aid in response to the growing role there of Iran’s ally Hezbollah, evidence of Saudi Arabia’s with-us-or-against-us regional doctrine.
“The Saudis are very keen not to allow Egypt to collapse, but at the same time the Saudis cannot pay forever. I think King Salman will try to explain these issues,” said Mustafa Alani, a security analyst with close ties to the kingdom’s Interior Ministry.
In recent months, groups of Egyptian ministers have flown to Riyadh almost weekly for meetings with their Saudi counterparts, a diplomat said, and officials are planning to unveil Saudi investments of $4 billion this week.
Saudi Arabia is also expected to sign a $20 billion deal to finance Egypt’s petroleum needs for the next five years and a $1.5 billion deal to develop its Sinai region, two Egyptian government sources told Reuters.
Egyptian intelligence sources said Sisi wanted the visit to soothe the recent strains in the relationship, attract more Saudi investment, reassure Riyadh over Cairo’s support for its stance towards Iran and discuss possible arms deals.
Agreements to cooperate more closely on a range of issues, from the armed forces to the economy, will be announced, say people in Riyadh, but are seen as unlikely to make the relationship significantly deeper.
“It is like a married couple who argue but decide to stay together for the sake of the children,” said Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi journalist.
نستخدم ملفات الكوكيز لنسهل عليك استخدام مواقعنا الإلكترونية ونكيف المحتوى والإعلانات وفقا لمتطلباتك واحتياجاتك الخاصة، لتوفير ميزات وسائل التواصل الاجتماعية ولتحليل حركة المرور لدينا...اعرف أكثر