Canal triggers major dispute between Egypt and UAE

Mohammad Ayesh

Middle East Eye  /  October 2, 2020

The planned digging of a new canal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates has reportedly enraged Egypt, which views the project as a threat to its strategic Suez Canal. 

According to a report by Al-Araby al-Jadeed (The New Arab) online newspaper on Friday, a major dispute between the UAE and Egypt has erupted due to “preliminary arrangements and consultations between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv regarding the digging of a new water canal, similar to the Suez Canal, connecting the Red Sea and the Mediterranean”.

Sources told the paper that there is a widespread state of indignation within Egyptian government circles due to the recent steps taken by the UAE and Israel, at a time when Cairo is making noticeable efforts to serve the interests of the two states.

The sources stated that the danger of this plan lies in the fact that the fate and future of the Suez Canal, one of the primary sources of income for the Egyptian economy, might be jeopardised.

The same sources indicated that the new canal, which Israel allegedly intends to dig, will link the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea at the city of Eilat in the Gulf of Aqaba, since crossing to the Red Sea from that point became possible after Egypt ceded the island of Tiran to Saudi Arabia.

Egypt no longer has authority over the sea passage between the Strait of Tiran and the Egyptian coast as it has become an international maritime route after the controversial agreement with Riyadh. 

The sources added that Egypt engaged in high-level talks with Saudi Arabia to urge Riyadh to intervene and stop the UAE plan.

The New Arab quoted an Egyptian source as saying: “We are aware that the matter is still under discussion. However, we consider Abu Dhabi’s initial response to this plan as a stab in the back”. 

Mohammad Ayesh is an Arab journalist currently based in London