Tunisia – Egypt: Sissi and Saïed, what is their relationship called? – Young Africa

The two presidents multiply the gestures of friendship, to the point that some wonder: Is Kaïs Saïed eyeing the Egyptian model?

“Support” and “pride in fraternal ties”. In a statement released on October 13, the Egyptian presidency reports on a phone call between Cairo and Tunis. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi wanted to “congratulate” his Tunisian counterpart on the recent formation of a government. After all, the event was long overdue: it has been more than two and a half months since Kaïs Saïed granted himself full powers and ruled the country without ministers, with a frozen Parliament.

However, these congratulations do not come after a period of disapproval or concern about the Tunisian situation, quite the contrary. Sisi’s Egypt and Saïed’s Tunisia have been on good terms since at least March 2020, the first public record of a telephone exchange between the two leaders.

The two countries then expressed a desire to develop their ties, and phone calls have been frequent since. Heads of State console themselves during tragedies (fatal train accident or military plane crash, sending aid in the face of Covid-19) and congratulate themselves during the celebrations.

On October 6, the Tunisian Head of State contacted his “brother” on the occasion of the forty-eighth anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, which in 1973 pitted a coalition of Arab countries (notably with Egypt in the lead) against Israel.

Unprecedented merger

If the Egyptians had achieved military success in the early days of the war, the conflict ended in Arab defeat. Nevertheless, for Carthage, it is necessary to celebrate “an unprecedented victory” and a “military miracle” since the Egyptian army had “succeeded, in a few hours, to cross the Suez Canal and to go beyond the Bar-Lev line”.

“It is a very important date symbolically in Egypt”, explains researcher Nedra Cherif, who is interested in the transition processes in the Arab world after 2011. “I think it is more in a perspective of strategic collaboration with the ‘Egypt that he has decided to mark the occasion of this anniversary. “

What is certain is that it is not for the Israeli-Palestinian dimension of the event since, on October 1, the presidency made no mention of the Israeli bombardments that took place in Hammam Chatt in 1985, against the Palestine Liberation Organization which was taking refuge in Tunisia at the time.

The Egyptian-Tunisian rapprochement that is taking place today is unprecedented in Tunisia since the fall of Ben Ali. Former President Moncef Marzouki only had contact with Egypt during the time of Mohamed Morsi. Caid Essebsi, meanwhile, seemed to maintain cordial relations with Sissi, nothing more.

For Cherif, the Libyan question has a lot to do with this evolution of the links between the two countries. “Whether at the economic level, whether to ensure stability and prevent it from relapsing into conflict and becoming a breeding ground for terrorism. “

Egypt’s security is ours and its positions will also be ours internationally

But, while Egypt has the military means to project itself outside its territory, Tunisia cannot say the same. As a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, however, it can “act as an intermediary to support or transmit certain positions of Egypt, or other Arab countries for that matter.” On the Libyan question, but not only.

In July, after Ethiopia resumed filling its controversial Renaissance dam, Tunisia brought the matter to the United Nations by submitting “to its fourteen Security Council partners a draft resolution calling for the ‘stop filling the tank,’ according to diplomatic sources.

Three months earlier, visiting Egypt at the invitation of Sisi, Saïed said he was looking for “fair solutions” to the case, before adding: “Egypt’s security is ours and its positions will also be ours. the international. “

Admiration or inspiration?

Strong words, which inevitably resonated in Tunis and raised fears, among some, of martial tendencies among the Tunisian leader. After all, the president never ceases to show admiration for the Egyptian military.

Welcomed on the red carpet and by the marshal at the foot of the plane, he took advantage of his visit to go and see the famous Bar-Lev line, the site of this “military miracle” of October 1973. He was still doing the same. praise of the military prowess of the neighboring country when he receives, a few days later, the Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs, resuming in passing his air of professor giving a course in an amphitheater. “We must not forget that he has been around these Arab nationalist circles a little,” recalls Nedra Cherif. So he has this enthusiasm for the history of the Egyptian army. “

If it is difficult to judge the intentions of Kaïs Saïed, in recent months, military symbols are not lacking in his official communication. Often staged alongside the army, even – especially? – during his speech on July 25, 2021. From there to imagine that he was inspired by the Egyptian military model?

“That Kaïs Saïed got closer to the military can be explained, on the one hand, from the fact that, politically, he was quite isolated, he did not have the means to say ‘I have a mass party behind me. ‘, and on the other hand, it was a way of saying to his opponents, if there was ever a violent reaction,’ I have the armed forces on my side ‘. This does not mean that the army should get involved in politics, however. “

An ambiguity which, in Egypt, has attracted the sympathy of all those who oppose the Islamists, since the situation is perceived there as that of a fight between him and Ennahdha. In Tunisia, it won him support for the same reason. And critics, for fear of a return to dictatorship or – a fact that would be unprecedented in the recent history of the country – an Egyptian scenario.

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