A very good article from Foreign Affairs about the Saudi-Egyptian alliance. Egypt and Saudi Arabia are trying to jointly establish an Arab military force in order to counterweight the Arabs and the Turks. This Arab force will be mainly based on the Egyptian army and on Saudi funding.
Map 1 (Turkey VS Egypt) and (Saudi Arabia VS Iran)
Egypt and Saudi Arabia are the two most important Arab countries, with Egypt being the largest Arab country, and Saudi Arabia being the richest one. However the two countries significantly differ in their foreign policy, and that’s what the article is about. The main problem is that Egypt’s main rival is Turkey, while Saudi Arabia’s main rival is Iran, and this difference make it difficult to coordinate the foreign policies of the two countries.
The Egyptians were very pleased to see the Russians coming to Syria, while the Saudis were very unhappy with the Russian’s move. The reason is that Russia is an Egyptian ally, but Russia is a major competitor of the Saudis in the oil markets.
Moreover Russia’s presence in Syria makes things harder for ISIS and Turkey, and that’s good news for Egypt, but at the same time the Russian presence strengthens the Syrian dictator Bashar al Ashad, a major Iranian ally, which is bad news for Saudi Arabia. ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood are mainly supported by Turkey and Qatar, and Egypt has to fight ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya, Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula, while the Saudis sometimes cooperate with the Turks against the Iranians.
Therefore Egypt needs the Saudi funding, and Saudi Arabia needs the Egyptian army, and both want to form an Arab military power to counterweight the Turkish and Iranian influence, but the Egyptians focus on Turkey and the Saudis focus on the Iranians, and that causes the foreign policy of the two countries to significantly diverge.
“Last Alliance Standing”, November 2015