Egyptian president`s visit to Saudi Arabia seeks to mend relations

The Egyptian President Abdel el-Sisi received a royal welcome when he touched down and stepped off his plane in the Saudi capital of Riyadh. He was met by King Salman, surrounded by royal officials according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

El-Sisi's trip comes at the invitation of Saudi King Salman and is said to be aimed at "bolstering strategic relations between the two countries" and that the two would discuss regional and international issues that were of common interest. This included the struggle against terrorism.
The two had met on the sidelines of a recent Arab league summit in Jordan in March, a meeting that helped renew friendlier relations after several months of tensions. The meeting on March 29th came just after the Saudis resumed petroleum shipments to Egypt after they had suddenly stopped them last October. The Saudi oil giant Aramco had halted monthly shipments of 700,000 tonnes of petroleum products without providing any explanation. However, the move came after Egypt voted in favor of a Russian-drafted security council resolution on Syria that Saudi Arabia strongly opposed. The Saudis strongly support the rebels and regime change in Syria.
Rhami Khouri, of the Issam Fares Institute of the American University of Beirut said:"These are two former giants in the region who are trying to regain their roles, and they understand that by working together they can help each other."
Ties between the two countries were also strained when a court ruling blocked an agreement to transfer sovereignty of two Red Sea Islands to Saudi Arabia from Egypt. In January, the High Administrative Court in Cairo ruled that the two uninhabited islands Tiran and Sanafir belonged to Egypt and that no evidence had been provided that they belonged to Saudi Arabia. The islands occupy narrow shipping lanes at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba running north to the ports of Eliat and Aqaba in Jordan and Israel. The ruling was overturned by the Court of Urgent Matters in April which claimed that the judiciary doesn't have the authority to intervene with matters of sovereignty". The two countries plan to build a bridge over the Red Sea joining the two countries. The decision is subject to appeal and must be approved by the Egyptian parliament as well. There have been considerable opposition to the move and even demonstrations. Al Jazeera's Middle East analyst Yehia Ghanem said the location of islands has great strategic and maritime value. Israel is in favor of Saudi sovereignty over the island of Tiran as the strait would then become international and Egypt would not be able to block maritime passage through it.
Both Saudi Arabia and Egypt regard the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization and ban it. Saudi Arabia gave billions of dollars in aid to Egypt after el-Sisi toppled the elected government of Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013. US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis also visited Saudi Arabia just recently to re-invigorate the alliance.


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