x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Saudi king calls on Arabs to back Cairo

Saudi Arabia stands with its Egyptian brothers against terrorism, King Abdullah says, and his statement was also backed by the UAE.

RIYADH // Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah pledged his country's support to Egypt in its fight against "terrorism", saying it was the military-backed government's "legitimate right".

In a speech aired on the official Al Ekhbariya television on Friday, King Abdullah also called on Arabs to stand together against "attempts to destabilise" Egypt.

Saudi Arabia "has stood and stands with its Egyptian brothers against terrorism, deviance and sedition, and against those who try to interfere in Egypt's internal affairs ... and its legitimate rights in deterring those tampering with and misleading" its people, he said.

"I call on the honest men of Egypt and the Arab and Muslim nations to stand as one man and with one heart in the face of attempts to destabilise a country that is at the forefront of Arab and Muslim history," King Abdullah added.

The UAE backed King Abdullah's position.

"The UAE seizes this opportunity to stand by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in support of Egypt and its sovereignty. The UAE also supports the call of King Abdullah for non-interference in Egypt's internal affairs," a UAE statement said. Hundreds were killed in Egypt this week when the security forces cleared protest camps set up by the Muslim Brotherhood to demonstrate against the military's ousting of President Mohammed Morsi last month.

Saudi Arabia was a close ally of former president Hosni Mubarak and has historically had a difficult relationship with the Brotherhood. It pledged US$5 billion (Dh18.36bn) in aid to Egypt after Mr Morsi was ousted from the presidency last month.

But Turkey's leaders kept up their criticism of Egypt yesterday, calling the violence a "shame for Islam and the Arab world", a day after the two countries recalled their ambassadors following the crackdown on Morsi supporters. The two countries announced late Thursday that they were recalling their ambassadors for consultations hours after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Egyptian leaders should stand trial for the military's move against Mr Morsi's supporters.

"I deeply feel the pain for every single Egyptian that was killed," Turkey's President Abdullah Gul said, according to the state-run Anadolu Agency. "All that happened in Egypt is a shame for Islam and the Arab world," he was quoted as telling reporters during a visit to Azerbaijan. Turkey's Islamist-based government had backed Mr Morsi as an example for the Arab world of a democratically elected leader. Turkey's ambassador to Cairo, Huseyin Avni Botsali, was summoned by Egypt's foreign ministry recently over the Turkish criticisms. Mr Gul rejected Egyptian accusations that Turkey was interfering in the country's internal affairs. Up to 2,000 demonstrators waving flags and chanting anti-US slogans took to the streets in Istanbul and Ankara to protest against the violence in Egypt.

In Jerusalem, hundreds of Hamas supporters rallied at Al Aqsa mosque compound in protest against Abdel Fattah El Sisi, Egypt's army chief.

Hundreds of people also demonstrated in Indonesia and Malaysia against a crackdown on the protest camps of Egypt's Islamists.

* Reuters with additional reporting by Agence France-Presse and Associated Press