King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud emphasised on Wednesday the “great role” played by Egypt in reaching the recent Riyadh Agreement.
The agreement saw the beginning of the end of a rift between Qatar and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) States.
King Abdullah also called for “the people and leadership of Egypt to seek with us the success of this step in the march of Arab solidarity – as we always have known it – as supporter for the efforts of the joint Arab action”.
The Egyptian presidency responded quickly on Wednesday saying Egypt “welcomes” the Kings statement and “looks forward to a new era folding the differences of the past”.
Expert at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies Mohamed Ezz Al-Arab said “the ball is in Qatar’s court,” and that a call for reconciliation should not come from the Egyptian side but from the Qatari instead.
Ezz Al-Arab believes that what happens next in Egypt-Qatari ties depends on the Qatari behaviour and whether Qatar will stop attempts to intervene in Egypt’s affairs.
He said the campaigns were started by the Qatari side and that Qatar has repeatedly attempted to intervene in Egypt’s internal affairs. He added that these were not met by similar attempts from Egypt. “The media machine is still working,” he said.
Ezz Al-Arab believes that the Saudi statement should have focused on the Qatari position instead of the Egyptian position. He added that the Egyptian response however reflects Egypt’s awareness of Arabic reconciliation in return for changes in Qatar’s behaviour.
“We [the Gulf States] have been keen and we have stressed in this agreement all our support for [Egypt] and our hope for the start of a new phase of unanimity and consensus among the brethren”, said King Abdullah in a statement published on the Saudi Press Agency website Wednesday.
Egypt highlighted its “full responsiveness to this sincere invitation, which represents a major step forward in the progress of Arab solidarity”. It added that Egypt “will remain the ‘home of the Arabs’” adding that it “does not shy away from supporting its brothers”.
The Egyptian side stressed the agreement will provide “the appropriate environment to heal the rift and the rejection of division” between Arab states.
The agreement reached on Sunday emerged from a meeting in Riyadh, which included the rulers of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar and signalled a “new page” in intra-GCC relations. Diplomatic representatives returned to their postings in Qatar as part of the agreement.
Egypt has also had disagreements with Qatar over the Gulf nation’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood, the group from which ousted president Mohamed Morsi hails. Many of the former president’s supporters fled Egypt to Qatar following his ouster in July 2013.
Qatar decided in September to expel seven Muslim Brotherhood members who had earlier fled Egypt to Qatar.
The change in Egypt’s government saw a split in the GCC, seeing the UAE and Saudi Arabia pledging billions of dollars in financial support for Egypt. The Egyptian authorities plan to return a $2.5bn deposit to Qatar by the end of November. This is a portion of approximately $7.5bn pledged to aid Egypt’s ailing economy following the ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
King Abdullah, referring to the agreement reached on Sunday, said: “We have been keen on developing a comprehensive framework for unity, harmony and renouncing dispute in the face of the challenges facing the Arab and Islamic nations.”
The Saudi King also said he is “sure that the leaders of thought and opinion and the media in our countries will seek to achieve this convergence from which we aim to end all odds, whatever their causes might be, as wisdom is the goal of the believer”.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates all recalled their ambassadors from Qatar in March, in a culmination of ongoing tensions between the neighbouring countries. In a joint statement released at the time the three countries said they had to take measures “that they see appropriate to protect their security and stability”.