CAIRO: Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz died early Friday, leaving behind an ongoing Saudi-sponsored bid to achieve reconciliation between Egypt and Qatar.
Saudi Arabia has brokered efforts to end a months-long standoff between the two countries over Qatari support to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Egyptian political have analysts ruled out any differences in Saudi’s regional role in mending the Egyptian-Qatari relations in the future after the 79-year-old Prince Salman, the half-brother of King Abdullah, was declared the new ruler of Saudi Arabia.
Mourning his brother, Salman has mentioned his late brother’s long efforts to defend Arab and Muslim affairs and promised to follow the same sensible approach that the Saudi state has followed since its establishment under late King Bin Abdel Aziz.
“I do not think there will be any change in the Saudi policies; I think King Salman will follow in his brother’s footsteps,” Mohamed Mahmoud, a specialist researcher in the Arab affairs at the Diplomatic Center for Strategic Studies, told The Cairo Post Friday.
Mahmoud continued explaining that the Egyptian-Qatari reconciliation has been witnessing a progress adding that “it is perceived that there is a change in the language used in both countries’ media discourses in comparison to the criticizing coverage a few months ago.”
He expected a more efficient Saudi role in the ongoing Yemeni crisis, saying that the deteriorated health conditions of King Abdullah has hindered a full Saudi presence in the scene in Yemen.
Mahmoud added “Saudi Arabia is playing an important regional role, and its position will not change by the change of the king.”
Leading member in Tagammu political party Hussein Abdel Raziq agreed with Mahmoud’s opinion. “The reconciliation initiative was launched by Saudi Arabia and it was not a personal one. And it is still alive,” Abdel Raziq told The Cairo Post Friday.
On the other hand, Kamel Abdullah, a political researcher at the Al-Ahram Strategic Studies Center said that he thinks “it is still unclear to decide on the future of the Egyptian-Qatari reconciliation, but I think it might take some time to achieve its goals.”
In comments to The Cairo Post, Abdullah added “the future of the reconciliation might depend on whether Qataris will present good intentions. The ball is in the Qatari’s court now”, citing President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s statement when he said “we’ll wait and see.”
A recent thaw in the international relations between the two countries was perceived when the Qatari network Al-Jazeera has halted its channel covering Egyptian affairs, through which it has been broadcasting anti-government reports since the army removed former President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013 after mass protests against his rule.
Another unsolved issue between the two countries is the case of the three Al-Jazeera journalists currently jailed in Cairo. However, the case has recently perceived a little dim of breakthrough when Egypt’s court overturned the journos’ conviction and prison terms over spreading false news and aiding terrorist group charges. Sisi has previously waived his intentions to pardon them, and has issued a deportation law, which is believed to be drafted in light of the case.
World leaders pay tribute for “Saudi’s loss”
Following the death of King Abdullah, many world leaders have offered their condolences.
Late King Abdullah was remembered by London for his “commitment to peace and for strengthening understanding between faiths,” by the United States for his “courage of his convictions,” and by Russia as a “wise statesman,” according to media reports.
Different Arab countries have announced days of mourning varied from three to 40, with the most days taken by Jordan; flags of Arab states will be flown at half-mast at the Arab League.
Egypt has announced a week of mourning and has cancelled the celebrations of both the fourth anniversary of the January 25 Revolution and the Police Day this year; both fall on the same day.
Among the world leaders who headed to participate in the funeral, Egypt’s Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab, three Egyptian ministers and the General Secretary of Arab League Nabil el-Araby.
Government sources told Youm7 that President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi has cancelled his participation in events at the 45th session of the World Economic Forum Davos to head to Cairo and then to Saudi Arabia to offer condolences in the death of the king. According to news reports, it was no possible for Sisi to participate in the funeral due to bad weather.