Egypt and Saudi Arabia reject meddling in Arab affairs as ministers meet

High-level meeting in Cairo between Egyptian and Saudi officials underscores close ties

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry meets his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan. Photo: Egyptian Foreign Ministry

Egypt and Saudi Arabia on Thursday rejected attempts by unnamed “regional parties” to meddle in the affairs of Arab nations and pledged to counter threats to shipping in the southern reaches of the Red Sea.

In thinly veiled references to non-Arab states such as Iran and Turkey, the statement spoke of regional parties using ethnic and sectarian tools, terrorist groups and “expansionist visions” to interfere in the internal affairs of Arab nations.

The meeting in Cairo between delegations led by Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan underscored the close ties between the two nations at a time when the region is grappling with geopolitical threats emanating from hotspots in places like Yemen, Libya and Syria.

The statement’s reference to the safety of shipping in the southern Red Sea and a later mention of Egypt’s support for Saudi Arabia in the face of “aggression” was in reference to Yemen, where the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have been fighting the internationally recognised government since 2014.

The Houthis have been attacking Saudi Arabia with missiles and drones, drawing strong international condemnation.

“The Egyptian side emphasised its rejection of aggression against the safety of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arab region, which is an integral part of Egypt’s national security,” the statement said.

The statement also emphasised the need to protect Libya’s unity and stability, agreeing on the country's need to hold scheduled presidential and parliamentary elections this month.

They also called for the withdrawal of foreign troops and mercenaries from Libya.

The statement also mentioned Saudi Arabia's support for Egypt in its dispute over a Nile dam being built by Ethiopia.

Saudi Arabia, the statement added, fully supported Egypt’s “water security” and the conclusion as soon as possible of a legally binding deal on the filling and operation of the large hydroelectric dam Ethiopia is building on the Nile.

Such an agreement, it added, should “keep off the damage resulting from this project on downstream nations [Egypt and Sudan] and bolster co-operation between them and Ethiopia".

Egypt, the most populous Arab nation with more than 100 million people, says the dam will reduce its share of Nile water, on which it depends for almost all its freshwater needs.

Ethiopia insists that Cairo has nothing to worry about but refuses to enter a legally binding deal.

Updated: December 16th 2021, 4:31 PM