Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri hailed a “special relationship” his country has with Saudi Arabia, denying reports that the two powerful Arab nations had fallen-out after Egypt expressed support for the Russian intervention in Syria. Egypt voted in favor of a Russian-backed UN resolution on Syria in October that excluded calls to stop bombing Aleppo, which Saudi Arabia strongly opposed. “I recognize the chatter within the media related to the conditions of this relationship [with Saudi Arabia] so let me reassure you that from Egypt’s perspective, we have a very clear vision as to the fundamental nature of that relationship, its importance, and that Arab national security depends on the cohesion and understanding that exists between Saudi Arabia and Egypt,” Egyptian Foreign Minister Shukri said.
Shukri added that Egypt was not building its relations with Saudi arch rival Iran, with which it has had strained diplomatic ties since the late 1970s, but has said it engages with the Islamic Republic in multilateral forums. “Egypt has always taken the opportunity of such discussions to re-emphasise the positions of the Arab nations as relates the importance of maintenance of the integrity of national Arab security and that it has always been in a position to emphasise in those discussions the interests of the Arab nation, vis-à-vis what might be expansionary policies of Iran,” Egyptian Foreign Minister Shukri said.
Also weighing in on Iran’s role in the region, Iraqi Vice President Ayad Allawi said the country’s “interventions” in neighboring Arab countries was “We all know that Iran has intervened directly in [the affairs] of many nations, first and foremost in Iraq, and now in Syria after it was done with Iraq. But this does not mean that we sit with our hands folded in the face of this abnormal and unacceptable circumstance. It is from this context that I believe that inviting Iran to regional summit with the presence of the United Nations and the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation is crucial so we can reveal the truth behind Iran’s intensions,” Iraqi Vice President Boris Johnson said.