Egypt-UAE tension over peace with Israel

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The speed of the peace train between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv almost ran Cairo over, forcing al-Sisi’s regime to conduct an immediate review.

The Egyptian officials were shocked by the Israeli-Emirati relations, which has now exceeded decades of peace between Cairo and Tel Aviv in a few months.

Although Cairo was aware of the Gulf-Israeli peace agreements under American auspices, and the degree of its actions reached mediation at times, and views of some mechanisms at other times converged, what happened after was not expected by the regime. This came after Abu Dhabi turned against the Egyptian role in mediation, in response to Egyptian officials’ interference, which came in a manner similar to guardianship over Emirati actions, whether with Israel or the United States. Even Emirati officials were fed up with the Egyptian moves and the attempt to impose tutelage on the Emirates and its relations with the Israelis and declared their liberation from Cairo’s tutelage over them.

Egyptian officials showed anger to the Emirates after it appeared running after peace as if it was a dream that was difficult to achieve and finally came true. Their view was that what Abu Dhabi was doing would not only harm the Arab scene and Arab-Israeli relations but rather the Egyptian role in the region, especially since direct mediation between Palestinians and Israelis is exclusively between Cairo and Amman. The Egyptians now see that peace at this pace will cause Cairo to turn into a fringe station in the Palestinian issue, in favour of an increasing role for the Gulf.

It will also increase the assets of the Gulf people with the United States over the Palestinian issue and others, especially with the Emirati ability to spend billions of dollars, not only in the Ramallah enclave (under the heading of development projects) but also in Tel Aviv’s favour in the form of great job opportunities for Israelis, which strongly supports the government of Benjamin Netanyahu. It is true that Egypt quickly welcomed the two agreements, whether the Emirati or the Bahraini, but what happened after that was not agreed upon.

The Emirati rush towards the Israelis bothered the Egyptian authorities, who provided deliberate advice before going into details of any economic agreements or reciprocal projects. The Egyptian viewpoint is that gradual peace is the best, especially since the recent agreements were aimed politically at the regimes and without a popular mandate. Cairo faced the same issue when the Egyptians rejected the pictures taken by the artist Mohamed Ramadan with Israeli actors in Dubai.

The UAE also clearly seeks to exploit the Israeli scientific progress quickly and transfer it to it, in addition to its desire for US deals that increase its superiority, such as the purchase of F-35 aircraft, which are not obtained by Egypt. And since the American argument for depriving Egypt of this type of aircraft was to maintain the qualitative edge of the Israeli army in the region, the speed of the American approval and the Israeli retreat from objecting to its sale to the Emirates made Cairo feel like it had been stabbed in the back.

The Egyptian military leadership became embarrassed by its inability to obtain these aircraft, despite decades of peace with Israel and the war’s end. Although the sources of the Egyptian army in purchasing aircraft are varied (French and then Russian), the army and the presidency feel embarrassed about completing the deal for the Emirates, especially since some military aid deals under the Camp David agreement are still pending, for reasons that Cairo considers “illogical.”

Also, part of the Egyptian anger towards the UAE is due to the discussion of the possible construction of the UAE gas pipeline through alternative land routes from the Suez Canal, which threatens navigation revenues, although officials officially denied this. However, the medium-term repercussions will be catastrophic for the Suez Canal revenues, the most critical national income source. With the above, direct and unannounced communication between Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed did not succeed in containing the crisis at various levels. And it seemed that there was a crisis between the two countries, which prompted al-Sisi to be absent from the coordination meeting in Abu Dhabi last week, while a state of anticipation prevails for the position of the Joe Biden administration regarding dealing with Egypt and the rest of the Gulf countries.