Egypt-Gulf Powers: Partners or Competitors?

Source: Italian Institute for International Political Studies

Author(s): Gawdat Bahgat

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One of the key developments in the Middle East in the last few decades has been the growing alliance between Egypt and some of the Gulf Cooperation Council states (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates/UAE). For most of the 1950s and 1960s Egypt, under President Gamal Abd al-Nasser, viewed the Gulf’s ruling families as reactionary and medieval regimes whose days were numbered. Meanwhile, the Gulf leaders felt threatened by Nasser’s vision of Arab nationalism and socialism. In the early 1960s Riyadh and Cairo engaged in a proxy war in Yemen that ended in 1967 with the resounding defeat of Egypt in the war with Israel. Since then the two sides have forged a close economic and strategic alliance, marrying the Gulf’s financial assets to Egypt’s political and cultural influence. The ouster of President Mohamed Morsi and the ascendency of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi in 2013 reinforced the close partnership between Cairo and the Gulf states, particularly Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.

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