Pro-government media vows 'Egypt won't kneel' amid escalating tensions with Saudi

Thursday 13-10-2016 04:15 PM

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi welcomes Saudi King Salman upon his arrival at the Cairo International Airport, Apr. 7, 2016. Photo provided by the Egyptian presidency.

CAIRO, Oct 13 (Aswat Masriya) - A number of pro-regime TV hosts launched a campaign rejecting Egypt's subservience to any country in the wake of rising tension between Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

The feud between both countries, who have long been strong allies, erupted after Egypt voted on Saturday in favour of a Russian-backed draft resolution in the UN Security Council on Syria, which was opposed by Saudi Arabia.

Only two days after the voting, Saudi state-owned oil company Aramco announced the suspension of its petroleum product supply to Egypt for the month of October. The sudden halt, triggered a scornful media campaign against Saudi Arabia, as it was seen by pundits as a political decision.

Editor in chief of Youm7 newspaper Khaled Salah used the "Egypt won’t kneel" hashtag on Twitter, calling on Egyptians to propose ideas that would safeguard Egypt from subordination to any country.

The pro-regime TV host suggested limiting the number of Egyptian Muslims travelling to Mecca to perform Umrah pilgrimage, and suspending it altogether for a year, saying it would save the country $6 billion at a time when it's suffering from severe shortages in foreign currency.

TV host Ahmed Moussa also publicised the campaign, lauding the Egyptian participation on social media. He said on his daily program, aired on satellite channel Sada El-Balad, that Egyptians need to stand united against "anyone who wants to twist their arm."

"We remember who stood by us when times were hard," he said, "we are not ungrateful, but whoever loves Egypt should not put pressure on it."

The "Egypt won’t kneel" hashtag quickly became the top trending hashtag in Egypt on Twitter on Tuesday with hundreds of Egyptians participating.

Some users have expressed their dismay at the Saudi stance, stressing Egypt’s independence, while a significant number used the hashtag to criticise and mock the current regime, accusing it of kneeling to Saudi, in reference to the Egyptian-Saudi maritime border demarcation.

The Egyptian government has been facing constant accusations of subordination to Saudi Arabia after signing a maritime border agreement in April stipulating that the Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir fall within Saudi Arabia's territorial waters.

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has relied on support of the Arab Gulf countries, mainly Saudi Arabia, since the overthrow of then-president Mohamed Mursi in 2013. The oil-rich monarchy has since provided Egypt with billions of dollars in forms of grants, loans and trade deals.

The "Egypt won’t kneel" statement was previously propagated by former prime minister Kamal El-Ganzoury before parliament in February 2012. The statement came amid pressure to halt the trial of 19 US nationals accused of receiving foreign funding.

However, the defendants in the case, known in the media as the NGO foreign funding case, departed Egypt in a US military airplane in March 2012 after the travel ban was lifted.

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