Iraqis wary of Egypt's friendly overtures

Iraqis wary of Egypt's friendly overtures
2 min read
10 Dec, 2015
Iraqis have reacted with cynicism to President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi message of complete support for Baghdad in its war against 'terrorism' delivered by
Egyptian National Security Advisor Faiza Abou al-Naga.
Iraq's relationship with Turkey has recently deteriorated [The New Arab]
Iraqis have expressed their doubts about the motives behind the Egyptian President's recent message pledging complete support for Iraq in its "war against terrorism" and calling for " bilateral economic cooperation".

Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi send a message to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Monday that said Egypt supported Iraq in its war against terrorism and Abadi's recent corruption reforms, according to al-Araby al-Jadeed's Arabic service.

The message, which was relayed by presidential advisor Faiza Abou al-Naga, also "stressed the importance of activating agreements and strategic cooperation between the two countries in the fields of security, economics, investment and culture."

Sisi's message has come following a widely publicised fall-out between Turkey, an enemy of the Sisi government, and Iraq over Turkey's refusal to withdraw its troops from the country.

      Erdogan has been a harsh critic of the Sisi government [Getty]
"This is the first time Sisi has communicated with Baghdad since Iraq payed off its workers debt to Egypt, when his emissary sent unannounced messages to Iraqi officials confirming that the debt had been delivered," University of Baghdad political science professor, Faiz al-Talbi, told al-Araby al-Jadeed's Iraq correspondent Qasim al-Ali.

Earlier this year Iraq agreed to pay back $1.7bn of debt to Egypt in oil.

Hundreds of thousands of Egyptian workers had been owed compensation since the 1990s after fleeing Iraq following Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait.

"Sisi is rumoured to be interested in bringing Egyptian businesses into Iraq to replace Turkish companies that have pulled out over security concerns and threats from government-backed militias," Talbi added.

Egypt has recently been improving its diplomatic ties with Russia and Syria.

A Syrian minister arrived in Cairo on Saturday in the first visit by a Syrian official in three years, raising questions on the real purpose behind the visit.

After Russian President Vladimir Putin put into effect restrictions on trade with Turkey for shooting down a Russian bomber along its border with Syria, Egypt offered to supply Russia with the prohibited goods.

Iraqis have questioned the reasons for Sisi's sudden interest in Iraq, as its relationship with Turkey has gone sour.

"Sisi's message is obviously an attempt to annoy Turkey with issue of Turkish troops in northern Iraq still going on," said Baghdad local Majid al-Husseini.

Civil servant Omar Mohammad said: "Sisi should worry about Sinai and leave us alone. We've had enough of interventions with ulterior motives."

Thirty-five-year-old taxi driver Ahmad Abd al-Rahman jokingly said Sisi thought that Iraq was still a wealthy country and that he would be able to receive handouts from the government.