Politics, World, Analysis, Middle East

Experts say Saudi king’s Egypt visit pivotal

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz scheduled to visit Cairo on Thursday

Mahmoud Barakat   | 06.04.2016
Experts say Saudi king’s Egypt visit pivotal

Egypt

By Rabee al-Sokkari

CAIRO

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz’s visit to Egypt on Thursday will tackle a number of regional and diplomatic issues, according to experts.

Egyptian-Saudi relations have witnessed mutual cooperation in many areas following the military coup in 2013 against Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first-ever democratically elected president.

After King Salman came to power in early 2015, however, the gap between Cairo and Riyadh has widened because of differences in approaching regional conflicts.

Safwat al-Zayyat, a military analyst and a former high-ranking Egyptian army officer, suggested that the visit aims at delivering political, military and diplomatic messages.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, al-Zayyat said Saudi Arabia is trying to change the Egyptian stance on disputed issues, including Syria, Yemen and Iran.

Al-Zayyat, however, said he did not expect increased military cooperation between the two countries.

“[The Egyptian regime] does not want to get involved much in conflicts outside its borders for political, economic and military considerations,” he said. “Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is seeking to take leadership in all ongoing coalitions in the region.”

Regarding Egyptian-Turkish reconciliation, al-Zayyat said that it is a “distant issue for now, because the Turkish leadership will not give up on its conditions.”

Al-Zayyat cited Turkey’s stance against the Egyptian regime’s violations against the previous “legitimate government that was in power.”

Ties between Cairo and Ankara have witnessed tensions since the military coup against Morsi.

Relations further soured when on Nov. 24, 2013 Egypt announced considering the Turkish envoy an “unwanted person” and reduced its level of diplomatic relations with Turkey.

Ankara responded with similar measures.

Turkey has announced its noninterference policy in Egyptian affairs and has stressed its support for democracy and the freedom of the Egyptian people.

Turkey has also repeatedly stood against military coups because they end democratic paths, as has happened after the 2013 coup against Morsi.

Al-Zeyyat also said that Saudi mediation by Turkey and Egypt will not work because it is a sensitive issue for the Turkish side regarding the role of the army in newly-established and modern democracies.

Meanwhile, former Egyptian Ambassador Rakha Ahmed Hassan, a member of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs NGO, told Anadolu Agency that “the most prominent expected files to be discussed between Salman and al-Sisi are connected to bilateral relations and mutual cooperation, as well as signing a number of economic agreements with value of $6 billion.”

Trade between Egypt and Saudi Arabia has reached $5.3 billion in 2015, up from $4.4 billion in 2012.

“Al-Sisi and Salman will [also] discuss the crises in Yemen, Syria and Libya,” Hassan added.

He also said that the Palestine issue, particularly reconciliation efforts between Fatah and Hamas, are expected to be on the agenda.

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