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Sisi arrives in Riyadh for talks on economic crisis gripping Egypt

March 8, 2022 at 2:06 pm

Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman Al-Saud meets Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi in Cairo, Egypt on 27 November 2018 [Bandar Algaloud/Saudi Kingdom Council/Handout]

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi arrived in Saudi Arabia today for an unscheduled visit to seek financial and other support to help Egypt get through the economic crisis gripping the country, informed sources have revealed. He is also expected to pass on a message from Washington about boosting oil production in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the consequent rise in oil prices.

“The visit is to last just a few hours at a time when the Egyptian regime is suffering from a brutal economic crisis, which started to emerge before the outbreak of the Russian war in Ukraine, and has worsened due to the repercussions of the fighting,” explained the sources. “President Al-Sisi is really counting on Saudi Arabia to obtain an economic aid package, and additional shipments of Saudi oil, to secure the needs of the Egyptian market, in light of the unprecedented rise in prices that accompanied the Russian invasion of Ukraine.”

Apparently, they added, the results of Sisi’s recent visit to Kuwait “were not at the level he hoped for” in terms of the economic support that he requested. “Sisi is going with a message to the Saudis that the situation in Egypt is on the verge of an explosion, and it may be difficult for everyone, especially the Gulf States, to control its repercussions.”

The sources noted that the Egyptian leader is convinced that the oil-rich Gulf countries are living their best days since the losses caused by the global pandemic, thanks to the impact of the Russian-Ukrainian crisis on the oil market, which will make them able to lend him a helping hand to Egypt.

READ: Ukraine diplomat calls on Egypt to take a tougher stance on Russia

Speaking to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, they said that Al-Sisi’s visit to Saudi Arabia will be followed during the next few days by a visit to the Sultanate of Oman. “He is scheduled to discuss with Sultan Haitham Bin Tariq the possibility of his country supporting Cairo economically at the current time.”

The US National Security Council’s coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa, Brett McGurk, and the US State Department envoy for energy, Amos Holstein, also visited Riyadh last Wednesday to strengthen relations with the Kingdom and pressure Saudi officials to pump more crude oil to achieve stability in the markets.

This demand was rejected by the Saudis. The Kingdom confirmed its commitment to the OPEC Plus agreement to maintain the rates agreed upon among the member states of the organisation, which lasts for five years.

The Saudi refusal comes in the context of the tension between US President Joe Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman over the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. Ever since Biden came to power early last year, he has refused to meet with Bin Salman or even talk to him on the phone because of his alleged involvement — which he denies — in the Khashoggi murder.

It has also been suggested that Cairo is relying heavily on a Saudi role in efforts to resolve the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam crisis. The issue is at a sensitive stage at the moment.

Other agenda items for Al-Sisi’s visit relate to Saudi investments in Egypt and the project for the transmission of electricity supplies between the two countries, the first phase of which is set to come online in October 2024.

READ: Following the invasion of Ukraine, inflation and a shortage of foreign currency has hit Egypt