Heads of state and senior diplomats from around the world gathered in Cairo on Sunday morning to witness the inauguration of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.
Representatives from the oil rich Arabian Gulf states, including Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, UAE President Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and King of Bahrain Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah. All four countries have been strong supporters of Egypt’s interim government, pledging billions of dollars to help boost Egypt’s ailing economy. Sultan Qaboos of Oman was represented by a delegation headed by the personal representative of the Sultan, Sayyid Asaad bin Tareq al Said.
Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani sent congratulations by telegram, according to Qatar News Agency. Egypt’s interim government, which took power following the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi has had a rocky relationship with Qatar. The Gulf nation was a strong backer of the Islamist president’s administration and condemned his removal last July.
Russian President Vladimir Putin was represented by the Chairman of the State Duma Sergey Naryshki at the ceremony. Putin congratulated Al-Sisi on his landslide electoral victory last week, before the official results were announced. Egyptian-Russian relations have warmed significantly over the last year, marked by an exchange of visits with the two nations’ foreign and defence ministers, which occurred during Al-Sisi’s tenure as Egyptian defence minister.
United States President Barack Obama was represented by a delegation headed by State Department Counselor Thomas Shannon, which also included Senior Adviser to the Secretary of State David Thorne. Deputy State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf announced the delegation’s visit last Thursday, saying: “The United States looks forward to working with President-elect Al-Sisi in Egypt and his government to advance our strategic partnership and many shared interests.”
The US-Egyptian relationship has been strained since Morsi’s ouster, something to which both sides have admitted, but have also stressed the importance of maintaining their “strategic relationship”. In October the US decided to suspend the delivery of military aid to Egypt pending indications of democratic progress, which included holding a referendum on a new constitution and presidential and parliamentary elections. Egypt rejected the decision at the time and since then there have been developments in US government that could facilitate a return to the full aid package of around $1.3bn.
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Afro-Arab Affairs Hossein Amir also attended the ceremony on Sunday, confirmed the Iranian foreign ministry. Relations with Iran warmed under Morsi, Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Cairo in February of 2013; the first time an Iranian head of state has visited Egypt since the Iranian Revolution in 1979. Egypt and Iran agreed on a tourism exchange agreement in March 2013 that saw the arrival of Iranian tourists to the country in late March for the first time in over 30 years. In January Egypt’s foreign ministry summoned the Iranian ambassador over comments made by the Iranian foreign ministry regarding events inside Egypt. The Egyptian ministry described the comments as interference in Egypt’s internal affairs.
King Abdullah of Jordan, King Mohamed VI of Morocco and President of the recently formed Palestinian Unity Government Mahmoud Abbas were joined by representatives and foreign ministers from around the Arab World to mark Al-Sisi’s inauguration. Secretary General of the Arab League Nabil El-Araby also attended the ceremony.
Africa was well represented including the heads of state of Chad, Eritrea and Equitorial Guinea, according to state-owned Al-Ahram. Representatives and ministers from African nations also participated in the festivities, including First Vice President of Sudan Bakri Hassan Saleh and Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom. Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan have been locked in a diplomatic dispute regarding the construction of a hydroelectric dam in Ethiopia that the two downstream countries fear will impact upon their share of the Nile water. Negotiations are on-going but have stalled over a disagreement regarding the selection of members for a committee, which is expected to implement recommendations aimed at appeasing all sides.
Chairperson of the African Union Commission Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma’s personal envoy attended the ceremony according to Al-Ahram. Egypt’s membership to the African Union was suspended days after Morsi’s removal. The foreign ministry has expressed its rejection of the decision on numerous occasions. Egyptian diplomatic efforts in Africa have increased since last summer in order to portray the “correct image” to the African continent.
The European Union was not represented as a bloc at the ceremony but representatives of some EU member states’ embassies, including France and the UK, were on hand, according to Al-Ahram.