In this Thursday March 10, 2016 photo released by the Saudi Press Agency, Saudi King Salman, middle, watches military exercises with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, right, in Hafr al-Baten, Saudi Arabia. (Via AP)
Saudi Arabia seems to have become more isolated in the wake of a diplomatic row with its close ally, Egypt, following Cairo’s vote in favor of separate Russian and French draft resolutions on Syria at the UN Security Council.
Back in April, Saudi Arabia had agreed to provide Egypt with 700,000 tons of fuel monthly for five years on easy repayment terms. Earlier this week, however, Saudi political activist, Mujtahid, revealed a halt to Saudi oil product shipments to Egypt.
Egyptian officials also announced that Saudi Arabia's Aramco oil company had informed the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation in early October that it would halt the supply of refined oil products to Cairo.
A source in the Egyptian Ministry of Petroleum said that government officials believe the suspension was "politically motivated" and estimate that it could last until the end of the year.
Egyptian media have lashed out at the Riyadh regime following its decision to freeze fuel shipment to the North African country.
Ahmad Moussa, one of Egypt's well-known television personalities, promoted the Arabic-language #EgyptWillNotKneel on his Tuesday’s talk show, saying, "We will stand up to anyone who tries to conspire against us. We will stand up to anyone who tries to make us submit to their will. We will stand up to anyone who tries to twist our arm."
Khaled Salah, editor in chief of the Egyptian Youm7 daily, also called on Egyptians to boycott the Hajj pilgrimage for a year, arguing that the move would save six billion Egyptian pounds.
The Wednesday issue of Egyptian daily al-Watan also featured a story, titled, "Saudi Arabia is paying the price for embracing terrorism and violent armed groups."
The article criticized the kingdom’s foreign policy and accused its ruling dynasty of supporting the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham terrorist group, al-Qaeda's Syrian branch formerly known as al-Nusra Front, in Syria.
A Saudi Aramco car with visiting journalists is seen outside the company's Natural Gas Liquids plant in Saudi Arabia's remote Empty Quarter near the United Arab Emirates, on May 10, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
Additionally on Thursday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi confirmed that Riyadh had halted previously agreed fuel shipments to his country.
Sisi, however, claimed that the suspension of Saudi petroleum aid to Egypt was not related to his country's vote in favor of the UN draft resolutions on Syria over the weekend. The Egyptian president defended Egypt’s position regarding the vote.
Egypt finds alternative fuel sources after Saudi oil cutoff
On Wednesday, Egypt announced that it has found alternative sources for provision of fuel and making up for a shortfall caused by Saudi Arabia's move to halt previously agreed shipments.
Egyptian newspapers quoted Oil Ministry spokesman, Hamdi Abdel-Aziz, as saying that several fuel shipments from other suppliers have arrived in the country following "urgent" tenders.
There has been so far no official comment from Saudi officials on the reason behind the abrupt halt of fuel shipments to Egypt, though analysts believe that the decision is linked to a public spat between the two allies over Syria
The Security Council spat was the first public quarrel between Riyadh and Cairo since the Egyptian military's 2013 ouster of the first democratically-elected president, Mohamed Morsi.