Adviser at the Saudi royal court Ahmed Al-Khateeb reportedly visited the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) during a visit to Ethiopia, according to Anadolu news agency.
The news agency added that the GERD visit was not included in Al-Khateeb’s itinerary. No Saudi media outlet has mentioned the visit.
Al-Khateeb’s visit was the second from a Saudi official to Ethiopia in less than one week, after the Saudi agriculture minister visited last week.
Political science professor Hassan Nafaa told Daily News Egypt that this reported visit is an indirect message to Egypt that Saudi Arabia can ally with anyone in case Egypt does not comply with Saudi foreign policy.
Nafaa added that this will increase the tension in bilateral relations between the two countries. He asserted that Saudi Arabia is attempting to defy Egypt which was obvious from the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) statement on the church attack in Egypt that occurred earlier last week. In the statement, the GCC denounced Egypt’s accusations that Qatar was involved in the attack.
Nafaa said that the GCC statement was published according to orders from Saudi Arabia. He concluded by saying that bilateral relations between the two countries have soured mainly due to competing visions of the current turmoil plaguing many Arab countries. He added that Egypt would not tolerate Saudi Arabia implicitly supporting the GERD as it may affect Egypt’s water quota.
Egyptian media meanwhile have lashed out at Al-Khateeb’s reported visit, saying that his decision to visit the GERD is an act of revenge against Egypt.
Bilateral relations between Egypt and Saudi Arabia have been strained following Egypt’s vote in favour of a United Nations (UN) security council draft resolution by Russia regarding a peace solution to the Syrian civil war. A Saudi envoy to the UN described Egypt’s vote as “painful.”
Egyptian officials, including President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and Foreign Affairs Minister Sameh Shoukry, have repeatedly denied any tension with Saudi Arabia.