Tuesday,17 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1228, (8 - 14 January 2015)
Tuesday,17 October, 2017
Issue 1228, (8 - 14 January 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Building bilateral relations

President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi travelled to Kuwait earlier this week to boost bilateral relations, reports Reem Leila

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Al-Ahram Weekly

President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi visited Kuwait on 5 January at the personal invitation of Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. The visit, the first since the president came to power last June, underlined the strong ties between the two countries and represented an opportunity to convey Egypt’s appreciation to Kuwait for its support following the June 30 Revolution.

Al-Sisi’s visit aimed at reassuring Arab, foreign and local investors about the business atmosphere in Egypt ahead of March’s economic summit. The ministers of foreign affairs, petroleum, international cooperation and investment accompanied the president on his tour.

During the visit, the president discussed investment and bilateral agreements with Kuwaiti officials and met with Kuwaiti businessmen and members of the trade and industry chambers to discuss possible investments as well as methods of increasing current Kuwaiti investments in Egypt.

They also discussed Kuwait’s participation in the upcoming economic summit.

Presidential spokesman Alaa Youssef said that the visit had focused on economic affairs. “The president had assigned ministers to prepare reports for files that should be given priority during the visit,” Youssef said.

Trade volumes between the two countries totalled close to $3.2 billion in 2013, including oil and its derivatives. “Kuwait is ranked fourth on the list of the largest foreign countries investing in Egypt and third among Arab countries, with total investments of some $2.8 billion representing 927 companies.

These companies operate in the construction, manufacturing, agriculture, finance and service sectors,” Youssef said. Egypt has shares in the capital of 2,736 Kuwaiti companies, he added.

Al-Sisi’s visit to Kuwait came amidst attempts by some countries to damage relations between Egypt and Kuwait. Reports had been published in newspapers and run on TV prior to Al-Sisi’s visit aiming at stirring up public opinion against Egypt. Some columnists in Kuwaiti newspapers had been against Al-Sisi’s visit, saying that Kuwaiti investment would be better off it it remained in Kuwait.

A few days before the president’s visit to Kuwait, Moroccan TV ran a report about the president which said that Al-Sisi had “led a coup” against ousted former president Mohamed Morsi, thus leading to the “abolition of democracy.”

Morocco’s ambassador to Egypt, Saad Al-Alami, said that the report was a regrettable incident aiming at causing tension between the two countries. “We must prevent such attempts that seek to create tension between us. The media should be cautious and take into consideration the feelings of both nations,” Al-Alami said.

Political analyst Hassan Nafaa said that the Moroccan TV report came after Moroccan King Mohammed VI visited Turkey, known for its support for the Muslim Brotherhood. “There have been attempts to distort the president’s image in the Arab world in order to reduce the Arab leaders’ support for Al-Sisi and isolate Egypt from the Arab world,” Nafaa said.

Nafaa, a professor of politics at Cairo University, said that Moroccan was concerned about recent closeness between Egypt and Algeria. “Algeria wants to maintain strong relations with Egypt. Politicians and decision-makers should be aware of this,” he said.

However, Moroccan authorities had developed the belief that Egypt’s recent moves were a way of sidelining the country’s influence in Algeria. “Egypt has the right to build solid relations with any country in the world, but within the context of not being misunderstood,” he added.

Aliya Al-Mahdi, a professor of political science at Cairo University, said that the cause of tension between Egypt and Morocco is the Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt’s Brotherhood leaders had pressured the Moroccan Muslim Brotherhood to create a crisis between the two countries, he said, especially after Egypt had recently improved relations with Qatar, the group’s main supporter.

“They want to seek asylum in Morocco, especially since many members of the Moroccan parliament and ministers are affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood,” Al-Mahdi said.

According to Al-Mahdi, Al-Sisi’s visit to Kuwait and his expected one to United Arab Emirates within the coming days are a threat to the Muslim Brotherhood.

“Al-Sisi’s visits to the Arab countries threaten the group’s existence, as the Arab leaders are supporting the president. The Islamists do not want this support to happen. Their main goal is either to isolate Egypt from the Arab world, or to put an end to the support for the president so as they can return to power,” Al-Mahdi said.

After the toppling of the former Islamist president, Kuwait announced that Egypt would be given aid worth $4 billion, $2 billion of which would go to the Central Bank of Egypt, $1 billion to aid in buying oil, and $1 billion for financial purposes.

Al-Mahdi expected positive outcomes from Al-Sisi’s visit, which is expected to calm Kuwaiti fears of the security situation in the country which affected investment after the 25 January Revolution.

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