Sisi visit highlights strong ties between Egypt and UAE
Cairo- Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s visit to the United Arab Emirates confirmed the strength of ties between Abu Dhabi and Cairo, as well as their renewed cooperation and coordination on important regional issues, most notably the fight against the Muslim Brotherhood.
“The backing Cairo continues to receive from Abu Dhabi has been instrumental in protecting Egypt’s national security and keeping the populous Arab state afloat against all the major economic, political and security waves it is facing,” said Hassan Nafaa, a political science professor at Cairo University.
“Egypt is a regional heavyweight whose support of the UAE means a lot, given the challenges the wider region is facing, particularly Qatar and Iran.”
Sisi met with several senior Emirati figures, including Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.
“Emirati-Egyptian coordination has proved its strength over the past years in facing various challenges in the region, foremost of which is the challenge of terrorism, which has become a serious global threat that cannot be tolerated,” Sheikh Mohammed said.
Sisi also met with UAE General Mohammed bin Salem bin Kardous al-Ameri. Televised comments between the two were trending on social media after the senior Emirati military officer highlighted the depth of ties between Cairo and Abu Dhabi.
“We are with you and we will sacrifice for Egypt. We will not be late to Egypt’s defence,” he promised. Sisi said Egypt was ready to sacrifice for the UAE as well.
The UAE has been one of Egypt’s strongest supporters since the 2011 uprising, offering Cairo billions of dollars in financial assistance. In 2016, the UAE invested $6.2 billion in Egypt and trade exchanged between the two nations reached $3.3 billion, including $2.4 billion in Egyptian exports to the UAE.
Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said relations between Cairo and Abu Dhabi were strong and strategic.
“Egypt is so keen on pushing its relations with the UAE on all fronts forward,” Abu Zeid said. “The UAE also has the same desire.”
Analysts in Cairo said relations between the two countries were closer than ever and Egyptians were aware of the positive role the UAE had played for Cairo since the 2011 uprising against long-standing President Hosni Mubarak.
“This is why aid offered by the UAE, along with Saudi Arabia, was so instrumental in Egypt’s economic recovery and ability to keep going in the years that followed the uprising but the importance of the UAE for Egypt does not stop there,” said Saeed al-Lawindy, an international relations specialist at Egyptian think-tank Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies.
UAE support goes far beyond economic assistance, Lawindy said, with Cairo and Abu Dhabi in tune on several major regional issues.
Abu Dhabi is strongly backing Egypt’s strategy in Libya, which includes support for Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and the Libyan National Army in the fight against Islamist militias.
The UAE was also reported to be party to recent Egyptian efforts to reconcile Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas, which could allow for the resumption of peace talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis and stabilise Egypt’s border with the Gaza Strip.
Abu Dhabi is also in agreement with Egypt’s stand over Qatar’s support for organisations such as the Muslim Brotherhood.
“Cairo also plays the same role for the UAE when it comes to the negative role Qatar plays in its security,” Nafaa said. “Its support to the UAE tips the scales in its favour against Qatar.”
Egypt, which has the world’s tenth most powerful army, as ranked by Global Firepower, an index of the world’s militaries, is also an important military ally for the UAE. Egypt participated in military exercises with the UAE and Bahrain in March, which included the deployment of rapid intervention and special operations forces.
Abu Zeid called relations between the two states “exemplary” and a “model” for relations between Arab countries.
“These relations have their peculiarity,” Abu Zeid said. “They are based on trust and mutual respect, which are essential components of successful ties among nations.”