04/12/2016, 10.08
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Cairo and Riyadh: investments and territorial arrangements to counter Iran

by Pierre Balanian

The Saudi king has made a "historic" five-day visit to Egypt, where he signed new trade agreements and proposed a peaceful future for Sunni nations. The Muslim Brotherhood unhappy: "We are being used to achieve political goals and then abandoned." Among the joint projects, a "bridge" across the Red Sea.


Cairo (AsiaNews) – The "historic" five-day official visit of the Saudi king Salman Ben Abdel Aziz to Egypt has ended. Among the several bilateral agreements signed during this visit, worth $ 16 billion, one of particular note signed by the heir to the throne Mohammed Ben Salman with the Egyptian Prime Minister Ismail Sharif finally defined the maritime boundaries between the two most influential Sunni Arab countries in the region.

After quarrels and disagreements that have lasted decades Egypt has ceded sovereignty  the Saudi Kingdom of two islands in the Red Sea, Tiran and Sanafir, occupied by Israel in the past and then reconquered by Egypt.

Moreover, sources close to the government of Egypt reveal that Saudi Arabia offered itself as a mediator between Egypt and Turkey. Relations between the two have been tense since the ouster of Mohamed el Morsi in July 2013 . The former Egyptian president was in fact backed by Erdogan, a great supporter of the Egyptian "Muslim Brotherhood" on the one hand, and Qatar.

Many analysts believe that the real reason for the Saudi King’s visit to Cairo first and then Ankara aims, in the battle for power with Iran, to tighten ties between the region’s two biggest Sunni countries both of which boast powerful armies, and established institutions .

According to a member of the Muslim Brotherhood residing in Turkey "no one cares about us: we were just used in recent years to achieve some political and strategic purposes by both Ankara and Riyadh".

To secure the Egyptian alliance, Riyadh unleashed unprecedented generosity since the Kingdom’s new ruler came to power. Trade agreements have been signed for Saudi investments in Egypt to the tune of 16 billion dollars. The choice of the Sinai peninsula the focus of such investment raises many questions, particularly about the construction of a highway in the northern part of the Sinai, the scene of clashes with the Egyptian ISIS known as the "Wilaya of Sinai".

Many Saudi investments will also take in the southern part of the Sinai, in a clear demonstration of having brought security to this troubled part of the country.

Finally, the construction of a suspension bridge across the Red Sea linking Saudi Arabia with Egypt and consequently Asia with the African continent, immediately called the "Bridge of Salman Ben Abdel Aziz" by Egyptian President Sisi, would ensure a greater flow of overland trade between the two countries and, through them, to their neighbors.

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