Sissi pledges Egypt’s military support if Gulf states ‘threatened’
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Sissi pledges Egypt’s military support if Gulf states ‘threatened’

In wake of renewed US sanctions on Shiite power Iran, president says Cairo ‘stands body and soul’ with its Sunni allies

In this photo provided by Egypt's state news agency, MENA, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi salutes as he inspects troops with Defense Minister Sedki Sobh at the Red Sea port city of Suez, Egypt, on October 29, 2017. (MENA via AP)
In this photo provided by Egypt's state news agency, MENA, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi salutes as he inspects troops with Defense Minister Sedki Sobh at the Red Sea port city of Suez, Egypt, on October 29, 2017. (MENA via AP)

CAIRO — Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi has pledged military support for Gulf Arab states if their security comes under threat, the state daily Al-Ahram reported Wednesday.

“If the security of the Gulf is directly threatened, Egypt will mobilize its forces to support its brothers,” Sissi was quoted as saying in a meeting with the press in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

“Egypt stands body and soul by the side of our Gulf brothers,” he said, without specifying the source of any outside threat.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have pumped billions of dollars into Egypt’s economy since its military — then headed by Sissi — toppled Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

Sissi successfully ran for Egypt’s presidency in 2014 and has cracked down on opposition, including Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood. He was re-elected with 97 percent of the vote in elections in March this year.

Along with the UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, Egypt severed diplomatic and economic relations with Qatar in June 2017, accusing it of links to extremist groups and being too close to Iran — charges Doha denies.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, left, Kuwait’s Emir Sheik Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, second left, Saudi King Salman, second right, and Yemeni President Abdel Rabbo Mansour Hadi, right, walk to an Arab summit meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, South Sinai, Egypt, on March 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Mohammed Samaha, MENA)

The Egyptian leader’s remarks came after the United States renewed tough sanctions on Iran as part of President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal meant to curb Tehran’s nuclear program.

Shiite powerhouse Iran is the main regional rival of Saudi Arabia and has frequently lashed out at the Gulf kingdom over its alliance with the US.

Egypt is also a member of the Saudi-led coalition which has since 2015 been fighting the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.

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