UAE and Saudi Arabia vow to preserve 'stability' in Egypt
The UAE promised on Monday to maintain its support for new Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, who has already received significant financial backing from several Gulf monarchies.
Sisi’s inauguration on Sunday “supports stability in Egypt and the Arab world,” UAE Vice President and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum was quoted as saying at his weekly cabinet meeting by state news agency WAM.
He said the UAE would “offer all support and aid to the Egyptian leadership…to achieve the aspirations of the Egyptian people” and later emphasised strong ties between the two countries on Twitter.
Sheikh Mohammed had previously said in a January BBC interview that he hoped Sisi would not run for president.
“I hope he stays in the army and someone else [stands] for the presidency,” he told the BBC’s Jon Sopel. “That’s what I think."
After the interview, an Emirati government spokesperson swiftly moved to tone down the remarks, stressing the “UAE’s respect for the will of the Egyptian people”.
Gulf States Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait have provided billions in aid to Egypt since last July, when the army ousted the country’s first freely elected president Mohammed Morsi from power.Reports in the Arabic media on 2 June suggested Saudi Arabia and the UAE are preparing a further $20 bn in aid, which would more than double what they have already given.
After lauding relations with Egypt, Sheikh Mohammed emphasised the UAE’s close and strategic ties with Saudi Arabia, where a cabinet meeting was also held on Monday to express support for Sisi.
Vice Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud was quoted by the official SPA news agency as restating “the firm positions of the Kingdom to support the Arab Republic of Egypt and preserve its security and stability”.
In an apparent reference to Qatar, Prince Salman also urged “all brothers and friends to get away and distance themselves from Egypt’s internal affairs", emphasising that “prejudice against Egypt is prejudice against Islam and Arabism”.
Qatar was the only Gulf State to back ousted president Morsi, providing billions of dollars in aid during his one year in power, and its relations with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf neighbours has come under increasing strain in recent months. Ambassadors from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain have not yet returned to Doha after being withdrawn partly in protest at Qatar’s foreign policy.
Egypt under Sisi has moved decisively against the Muslim Brotherhood, labelling them a terrorist organisation in December last year and detaining more than 40,000 people in a far-reaching crackdown. Saudi Arabia declared the Muslim Brotherhood terrorists in March and the UAE has pursued a domestic campaign against the group, jailing scores of people in a trial last July that human rights groups decried as a “mockery of justice”.