Egypt’s Sissi in UAE for joint military exercises

Army head professes solid relations with Arab Gulf country, which strongly supported Morsi’s ouster last year

Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi reviews honor guards, April 24, 2013 (photo credit: AP/Jim Watson/Pool)
Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi reviews honor guards, April 24, 2013 (photo credit: AP/Jim Watson/Pool)

ABU DHABI — Egyptian military chief Abdel Fattah al-Sissi arrived Tuesday in the United Arab Emirates, a strong supporter of his July ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

Field Marshal Sissi, who is Egypt’s defense minister and deputy premier, traveled to the UAE to attend the closure of joint military exercises there. He was met by UAE deputy army chief Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.

The two men noted the “fraternal and solid relations linking the two countries and their peoples,” and their wish to “consolidate bilateral cooperation,” the WAM news agency reported, without giving details on Sissi’s plans or the length of his stay.

The Emirates have given Egypt $4.9 billion in financial aid since Morsi’s ouster, as well as deposited $2 billion in the Egyptian central bank, interest free.

Last week, the UAE joined Saudi Arabia and Bahrain in recalling their ambassadors from fellow Gulf Cooperation Council member Qatar over its support for Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood.

As a sign of support for the military-installed government in Cairo, the UAE’s Arabtec contractor signed a memorandum of understanding Sunday to develop a $40 billion project to build one million housing units in Egypt.

The signing came ahead of an expected announcement by Sissi that he will run in elections to replace Morsi, a vote he is widely expected to win.

Sissi has emerged as the most popular political figure in Egypt following Morsi’s troubled year-long rule, with many viewing him as a strong leader who can restore stability after three years of unrest unleashed by the 2011 revolt that toppled Hosni Mubarak.

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