Currently, relations between Saudi Arabia and Egypt are at an all-time low. On October 31, the head of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a Saudi-supported organization that brings together Muslim nations, resigned after publicly ridiculing Egyptian President Abdul Fatah al-Sisi over his comments about Egypt’s continuing economic crisis, according to Daily Sabah.
Saudi-Egyptian relations boomed three years ago after President Sisi’s coup against the elected government of Muhammad Morsi. Saudi Arabia shored up Egypt’s economy with oil shipments and $25 billion in crucial foreign cash reserves. According to The New York Times, Saudi support helped Egypt fund various food subsidies, prevented an energy crisis, and shored up Egypt’s depreciating currency.
Since then, tensions have deteriorated rapidly. Earlier this year, Saudi King Salman visited Egypt and agreed to provide more economic support in exchange for Egyptian islands. The plan resulted in widespread protests, which caused Egypt to back out of the deal. The escalating violence in Syria led to more contention as Egypt refused to decry the Assad regime for war crimes. In October 2016, Egypt supported a Russian-backed United Nations resolution on Syria, causing Saudi Arabia to recall its ambassador from Egypt.
Recently, Saudi foreign funding fell to about two billion dollars, leaving Egypt dangerously low on foreign cash reserves necessary to support food subsidies and state coffers. In response, President Sisi tried to encourage individuals to be more frugal, resulting in ridicule of his seeming hypocrisy by Egyptians and Saudis alike.
For now, the future remains unclear as Saudi-Egyptian tensions rise and evidence indicates that foreign cash cannot salvage the relationship.