Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan visited Egypt a couple of days ago where he met al-Sisi in Cairo’s Al-Itihadiyeh Palace.
In fact, this is the third visit by the oil-rich Emirate’s crown prince to Cairo during the last six months.
The UAE and other Gulf countries have poured billions of dollars to support al-Sisi regime after he led a military coup in 2013 against Egypt’s first democratically elected president Mohamed Morsi. In this context, Egypt has received more than $20bn in aid from Gulf countries.
The visit was to tackle main regional issues especially in Libya as both countries are strong supporters of Gen. Khalifa Haftar. In addition, the financial aids could be on the agenda too as most of the previous Emirati visits.
However, on the top agenda priority the tensions between Egypt and Riyadh and the possible means to mediate reconciliation between both countries.
UAE mediating reconciliation between Cairo and Riyadh
The Egyptian Saudi dispute was on the top agenda of the Emirati Crown Prince’s visit. According to informed sources, the meeting ended with a UAE delegation going to Riyadh to meet Saudi officials for the sake of the reconciliation, reported Middle East Monitor.
In addition, al-Sisi has demanded a “clear Saudi apology for the violations made by Saudi Arabia against Egypt, as revealed by the same source. “No further details were reported.”
At an earlier report by al-Arabi al-Jadeed, Egyptian political sources unveiled that Egypt had asked Bahrain and UAE to mediate with Saudi Arabia to end the differences between the two parties that led the Kingdom to halt the supply of oil products to Egypt after escalation of differences.
The sources cited by Al-Arabi al Jadeed at that time pointed that “the mediation requested by the Egyptian side aims to halt the tensions and war of words between both sides in the light of the economic crisis that hits Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s regime. “It also pointed that “The current economic struggle and public dissent escalating in the country have pushed the Egyptian regime to seek the mediation of Gulf parties to swiftly end the dispute between Cairo and the Kingdom and resume the supply of oil products to Cairo that costs the country $1 billion if it purchased it from the market away from its agreement with the Saudi Aramco company.”
The sources continued, “This would cause a huge deficit in the foreign currency reserves which will have negative repercussions especially under Egypt’s rising need for every single dollar in its monetary reserves to start securing the $12 billion loan deal from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on three tranches.”
The sources said, “Cairo offered to stop all the forms of political and media escalation against Riyadh and reach a formula that is convergent with the Saudi stance in some files on the political arena, as well as halting meetings with Iranian figures, which was one of the reasons that triggered the Saudi outrage toward the Egyptian regime.”
In return, Saudi Arabia should end its suspension of oil products supply to Cairo and resume delivery of the required quantities for this month.”
It is noteworthy that the Egyptian-Saudi tension has reached its peak in the light of the war of words launched by the Egyptian media against the Saudi Kingdom which pushed Saudi activists to launch a hashtag apologizing to President Mohamed Morsi for the “Kingdom’s support for the military coup” in Egypt.
In this context, some economic official sources said that “Cairo is preparing to implement economic measures, which were described as “vigorous” to face the lack of funding and foreign currency shortages,” stressing that, “Cairo will declare a war economy period if the Gulf aid stopped.”
Tensions between Cairo and Riyadh have escalated as a result of Egypt’s divergent stances in sensitive issues to Riyadh.
Egypt has voted in favor of a Russian-backed draft resolution in the UN Security Council on Syria, which was opposed by Saudi Arabia.
As a result, Egypt’s stance has angered Egypt’s major Gulf backer which condemned Egypt’s vote and described it with the” painful” stance.
After the voting, the Saudi ambassador to the UN, Abduallah al-Mouallimi said, “It was painful that the Senegalese and Malaysian stance was closer to the Arab’s consensus than the Egyptian delegation.”
He also said that he feels pity for these countries that voted for the Russian resolution, stressing that his country will continue backing the Syrian people by all means.
Two days following the voting, Saudi state-owned oil company Aramco announced halting oil product supply to Egypt.
The sudden halt triggered a scornful media campaign against Saudi Arabia, as it was seen as a political decision. On the other side, Saudi journalists and media men criticized the Egyptian regime and blamed the Kingdom for its financial generosity with the al-Sisi regime.
A possible financial aid to Egypt
Bin Zayed’s visits to Egypt are frequently accompanied by “aid disbursements from the United Arab Emirates to cash-strapped Egypt,” reported Anadolu News Agency.
After the crown prince visited Cairo in April, the UAE announced a $4-billion aid disbursement, half of which was deposited in Egypt’s central bank while the other half came in the form of investment.
In addition, UAE has agreed to pour Egypt’s central bank with a $1bn deposit for a duration of six years in a new show of support for Abdel Fattah al-Sisi last August, reported the BBC.
Emirates News Agency said that the agreement was signed by the director general of Abu-Dhabi development fund and the governor of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE).
The announcement came when Egypt was grappling with a dollar shortage and dwindling foreign reserves, and as Sisi has been preparing the public opinion for economic reform measures, including further subsidy cuts.
At an earlier time, the Central Bank of Egypt announced that the foreign reserves have declined from $17bn in April to $15.5 bn in July.
Egypt suffers severe shortage in hard currency after the decline in tourism revenues from $9bn in 2014 to $5bn in 2015 as well as the decline in Egyptian transmittance from abroad.
In fact, Egypt needs around $70bn annually for exports from abroad according to the recent figures in the state’s annual budget this year.
In this context, Emirates News Agency said that the $1bn deposit, which is for a six-year period, comes as part of the UAE’s “unwavering position in supporting Egypt and its people” and in recognition of Egypt’s “pivotal role in the region.”