News

Egypt Tries to Woo Back Saudi Ambassador

Security forces and tanks stand outside the now vacated Saudi embassy in Cairo, April 29 2012.
Security forces and tanks stand outside the now vacated Saudi embassy in Cairo, April 29 2012.
Elizabeth Arrott

Saudi Arabia is reported to be reconsidering the decision to recall its ambassador to Egypt, after leaders in Cairo worked to heal a rift between the Arab neighbors. The Saudis closed their mission in Egypt following anti-Saudi protests there.

Egypt's de-facto leader, Field Marshall Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, reached out to officials in Saudi Arabia in an attempt “to contain the situation.” Egyptian state media said he began efforts to heal the rift within hours of the Saudi decision Saturday to bring its ambassador back home.

Protesters had besieged the embassy in Cairo and other Saudi missions around Egypt for several days last week, protesting the detention of Egyptian human-rights lawyer Ahmed el-Gezawi. His supporters say he is being held in retaliation for a lawsuit he filed against the Saudi monarchy over the treatment of Egyptian workers in the kingdom.  

Saudi officials counter that Gezawi was trying to smuggle in vast quantities of a banned anti-anxiety medication.

Mounting tensions

The diplomatic rift is the worst in decades between two of the most influential Arab nations, and caught many average Egyptians by surprise. Student Mohamed Sami believes the Saudis overreacted.

He says rather than recalling their ambassador, the Saudis could have sent a military attache or other officials out to calm the situation. He says closing the embassy was wrong.

Tensions between Cairo and Riyadh have been mounting for more than a year. Saudi Arabia was shaken by the fall of its longtime ally, former president Hosni Mubarak, and is said to have tied much-needed aid to his release from prison. The strain has been compounded by the rise of Egypt's Islamist forces, whose partnership could prove far less reliable.

‘Reactionary decision’

But political analyst and Al Ahram managing editor Amira Howeidi says the embassy closure was a “reactionary decision.”  

“I do not think it is a political and strategic decision.  It is basically in response to the protests in Egypt and a response message to the Egyptian revolution, but not an issue that could harm or damage Saudi relations, which are very deep.”

Howeidi notes how quickly the Egyptian Cabinet issued a statement expressing regret over the protests.

Many Egyptians say they agree with that statement. Retired doctor, Tari Naguib, appears tired of the near constant rounds of protests that have roiled Egypt since the uprising.  

She says these days people go out to chant and protest anything, with the loudest voice dominating. She says she prays calmer forces will soon regain control.

Join the conversation on our social journalism site -
Middle East Voices
. Follow our Middle East reports on
Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.
This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs