Economy and military cooperation: Mohammed bin Salman strengthens ties with Egypt

The Saudi hereditary prince is in Cairo, for the first trip abroad since his ascent to power. He will also fly to Britain and the United States. A 10 billion dollar fund for the development of a megalopolis in southern Sinai. Egypt "gives" disputed Red Sea islands to Riyadh.

Cairo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Saudi hereditary prince Mohammed bin Salman (Mbs), number two after King Salman and the country’s power broker, landed yesterday afternoon in Cairo, the capital of Egypt, for the first diplomatic trip abroad since his ascent to power. During this first stage in the land of the pharaohs he will meet President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, today a key ally in the region after years of divisions between the two nations.

In addition to Egypt, the Saudi leader’s diplomatic tour will also touch Great Britain on March 7th and, later, the United States.

In these hours, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have created a 10 billion dollar mutual fund, aimed at developing a megalopolis of over 1000 square kilometers in the southern Sinai.

From 2013, concurrent with the rise to power of President al-Sisi – who is seeking a second term in the elections scheduled for the end of the month - Riyadh and Cairo have strengthened economic, trade and diplomatic ties. Since the banning of the Muslim Brotherhood (which both countries consider a terrorist group) to investments in economic matters, there are many issues that unite the current leaders in power.

The billions made available by the Saudi kingdom underscore, once again, the deep bond that unites the richest nation in the Arab world - and guide of Sunni Islam - with the most populous Muslim country in the Middle East and North Africa. A bond that is also military, considering Cairo’s support of Riyadh in the fight against the Houthi rebels (Shiite) in Yemen and the adherence to the boycott promoted by the Gulf States against Qatar.

Meanwhile, over the weekend, the Egyptian judiciary has in fact served a welcome gift to the Saudi hereditary prince. In an unprecedented sentence, and annulling all the previous verdicts of the judges, the Constitutional Court has effectively ratified the controversial passage of the two disputed islands (Tiran and Sanafir in the Red Sea, of strategic importance) to Riyadh.

The delivery of the islands could take place in these days, during Mohammed Bin Salman’s visit.