What had been a warming of relations between Saudi Arabia and Egypt has apparently frozen over after news of the Saudis suspending shipments of oil supplies to their Middle Eastern neighbor. Though no specific reason for the October 10 decision was publicly noted, diplomatic experts feel that the political machinations dealing with the ongoing civil war in Syria played a large role.
It was just last year that Saudi Arabia and Egypt renewed ties after the years of havoc stemming from the Arab Spring. That agreement, which came after King Salman visited Cairo, was for five years. It stated that Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation would receive 700,000 tons of oil products that had been properly refined from Saudi Aramco.
However, Saudi Arabia has made it clear that their goal with respect to Syria is to see the divided country’s president, Bashar al-Assad, removed from power. The chaos caused from more than five years of this conflict has resulted in millions of refugees fleeing the country. In addition, an estimated 400,000 people have been killed.
Russia has been assisting al-Assad and last week sponsored a resolution with the United Nations Security Council connected to the controversial bombing in the Syrian town of Aleppo. Though the measure failed, the Saudis took note of the fact that the Egyptians voted with the Russians. The Kingdom and Egypt had already been at odds due to the delay in transferring a pair of islands located on the Red Sea to Riyadh’s control.
While the Egyptians could conceivably obtain their oil from Russia if the dispute isn’t resolved in quick fashion, it would be a much more complicated endeavor. Just from a time perspective, it would effectively double the distance for any deliveries, undoubtedly raising the amount of money needed for the commodity.