Egypt's Sisi defends UN Syria vote amid Saudi spat

Egypt's Sisi defends UN Syria vote amid Saudi spat
2 min read
14 October, 2016
Egypt's president on Thursday defended his government’s decision to vote for a UN resolution on Syria strongly opposed by Saudi Arabia, which has caused a rift between the allies.
Those who want to have a free will must endure, said Sisi [Anadolu]
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Thursday defended his government’s decision to vote for a UN resolution on Syria strongly opposed by Saudi Arabia, in a rare public dispute between the allies.

Cairo voted in favour of a Russian-drafted resolution on Syria at the UN Security Council on Saturday, angering Riyadh, one of Sisi's main backers since he toppled Mohamed Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected president in 2013.

Two days later, Cairo announced Saudi oil giant Aramco halted petroleum shipments for October, which were part of a deal signed in April for Aramco to deliver 700,000 tonnes of products monthly to Egypt.

Riyadh's UN envoy Abdullah al-Muallimi described as "painful" the fact that Senegal and Malaysia were "closer to the Arab consensus" on Syria than Egypt, the Arab representative at the UN Security Council.

"Some commentators thought that halting the shipment of petroleum products was a response to that issue (Egypt's UN vote)," Sisi said in a speech aired on state television.

"I say no; take note that this deal is commercial."

Still, he did not offer an explanation as to why the deliveries were halted, and Aramco has yet to comment on its decision.

"We don't know what the situation is with these companies," Sisi said commenting on the halted shipments, adding that "we have taken the necessary procedures and there won't be problems in petroleum products."

"We are very, very careful about our historical relations with our brothers in the Gulf," Sisi said, "but in the context where we respect our sovereignty, together."

Sisi said there was "an attempt to sabotage Egypt's relations” and to “isolate it," without elaborating.

"If you want real sovereignty in decision-making, nations that are sovereign in their decisions suffer, suffer a lot," said Sisi.

"Those who want to have a free will must endure," he said.

Agencies contributed to this report