Amid souring relations, Saudi Arabia has halted fuel shipments indefinitely to Egypt, Cairo said yesterday. The move came after Saudi state oil company Aramco informed Egypt of the suspension of oil shipments in October.
Egyptian Oil Ministry spokesman Hamdi Abdel-Aziz said Monday that Saudi Arabia's Aramco, the world's largest oil company, stopped sending the fuel shipments to Egypt "without giving a specific timetable or reasons."
Egypt said last month that it had been informed that October's shipments had been halted. But it was initially unclear whether that represented a one-off reprimand after Egypt voted for two U.N. Security Council resolutions on Syria, one of which was opposed by Riyadh. Saudi Arabia has not commented on the fuel shipments. Abdel-Aziz made the remarks after denying reports that Egypt's Oil Minister Tarek al-Mulla was heading to Iran, Saudi Arabia's main regional rival.
Relations between Saudi Arabia and Egypt appear to have soured as the two close allies have begun differing on regional issues. The Security Council spat was the first public quarrel between Riyadh and Cairo since the Egyptian military's 2013 ouster of the former President Muhammed Morsi and the subsequent flow of billions of dollars in Saudi aid that kept Egypt's ailing economy afloat.
Saudi's move came after Egypt's announcement's that it will host Russian troops for war games along the Mediterranean coast, the latest step in the two countries' rapprochement. The drill, due to happen from Oct. 15-26 in the coastal city of al-Alamein and dubbed the "Guardians of Friendship," includes "elite units" from both sides. Russia's defense ministry said it would be the first ever joint paratrooper exercise for the two and would involve armor being dropped from planes.
Egypt has increased cooperation with Russia under Egyptian leader Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, including a preliminary agreement to build a nuclear power plant. The country is also negotiating with Russia to restore flights to its Red Sea resorts, a year after the bombing of a Russian airliner carrying holidaymakers back to St Petersburg.
As one of the non-permanent Security Council members, Egypt voted in favor of Russian draft resolutions on Syria at the U.N. Security Council in October, a move that has apparently angered the Saudis. Egypt and Saudi Arabia's differences have been rooted over Syria as Saudi Arabia is opposed to Russian support for Bashar Assad forces in Syria and its intervention in the Middle East region. Egypt has been moving closer to Russia, harshly condemned by the Saudis and other Arabs for its heavy-handed military intervention in Syria.
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