• 17:59
  • Monday ,11 August 2014

Threat of regional militancy dominates Al Sissi’s Saudi talks

By The Gulf News

Home News


Monday ,11 August 2014

Threat of regional militancy dominates Al Sissi’s Saudi talks

Islamist militants’ recent territorial gains in the region will most likely take the centre stage of Egyptian President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi’s talks in Saudi Arabia, according to analysts.

Al Sissi on Sunday started a visit to Saudi Arabia, his first since becoming Egypt’s president in June.
The visit is seen as a gesture of appreciation for the kingdom, which has politically and financially supported Egypt since the army, led by Al Sissi, toppled Islamist president Mohammad Mursi last year.
Both Al Sissi and Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz have repeatedly warned against the regional and global repercussions of a surge in militancy in the Middle East.
“Prevalent circumstances make it imperative for the establishment of an Egyptian-Saudi alliance to stand firm against the dangers facing Arab national security,” said analyst Abdul Qader Shaheeb. “There is a Saudi conviction now that what Egypt did on June 30, 2013 [Mursi’s ouster] has not only saved Egypt from enormous evils, but it has also foiled sinister plans for the entire Arab region.”
Mursi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president who was overthrown, belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood, the group that was banned by Egypt and Saudi Arabia in recent months. Both countries have also toughened measures against it.
“For its part, Egypt appreciates Saudi and Gulf support since June 30 because this support has prevented the Americans and their European allies from seeking to restore the Brotherhood to Egypt’s rule,” said Shaheeb.
Saudi Arabia along with the UAE and Kuwait have pumped a total of $20 billion (Dh73.46 billion) into Egypt’s ailing economy since Mursi’s overthrow.
During his visit to Saudi Arabia, say Egyptian officials, Al Sissi will discuss conflicts in Iraq and Syria where insurgents led by the radical Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) have grabbed vast areas and declared the establishment of an Islamist caliphate.
Egypt’s neighbour, Libya, is meanwhile experiencing its worst violence since the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi in a 2011 armed uprising. Egypt is engaged in a high-profile campaign against Islamist insurgents blamed for a series of deadly attacks against security forces.
“Al Sissi is resolute in facing terrorism to eliminate it from Egypt and then from the Arab world. The Egyptian-Saudi alliance should be based on the principle of mutual support and protection,” said Shaheeb. “It could act as an umbrella for the whole Arab region and preserve its territorial unity.”
King Abdullah held talks with Al Sissi at Cairo airport on June 20, becoming the first Arab leader to meet the former defence minister since Al Sissi took office early in the month.
“Preserving the Arab national security, based on the latest developments in Syria, Libya and Iraq, will be among major topics of discussion for Al Sissi in Saudi Arabia,” said Ameerah Ebrahim of the independent newspaper Al Tahrir. “With their weight, Egypt and Saudi Arabia spearhead the efforts to stand up to this conspiracy [religious militancy] that aims at dismembering the region.”
According to Ebrahim, the talks will also deal with economic links between Cairo and Riyadh. “Significantly, the visit comes days after Al Sissi launched a national project for developing the Suez Canal, a project that can result in massive economic changes not only for Egypt but for the whole region.”
Last week, Al Sissi announced that Egypt would build a 72-kilometre waterway parallel to the existing Suez Canal as part of a larger project aimed at establishing Egypt as a global trade and industrial hub. “This project gives rise to enormous investment opportunities in which the kingdom can have a direct role,” Ebrahim said.
Following Al Sissi’s landslide victory in presidential elections in late May, the Saudi monarch proposed an international donor conference to support the Egyptian economy. The conference is expected to be held later this year, most likely in Egypt.