Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said the army will come to the defence of Gulf Arabs if they face any direct threats, a pro-government newspaper reported.
Youm7 newspaper quoted Sisi as saying in response to a question on US sanctions on Iran: “Instability affects us all and any state that has instability affects all of us.”
Sisi’s Egypt is aligned with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, joining their boycott of Qatar last year and opposing Iran’s regional influence.
“Our Arab peoples must remain aware and have true consciousness of what the region is going through,” Youm7 quoted Sisi as saying at a youth forum in Sharm al-Sheikh.
“We stand by our brothers in the Gulf wholeheartedly and if Gulf security is directly threatened, the Egyptian people, even before their leadership, will not accept and will mobilise forces to protect their brethren.”
Sisi said Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait “need to be together more and their peoples should support the security and stability of their countries,” state news agency MENA reported.
The five countries are among eight Arab nations involved in joint military exercises that began in Egypt on Saturday in a move that could evolve into a regional pact to counter Iran’s influence.
Answering a question on the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Sisi said Saudi Arabia was “bigger than someone shaking its stability,” according to MENA.
“We must all wait for investigations into the case because the media has not had a positive role and we must trust the wisdom and bravery of King Salman,” he added.
Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist critical of the Saudi government and its de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, disappeared at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.
Saudi officials initially insisted Khashoggi left the consulate, then said he died in an unplanned “rogue operation”. The kingdom’s public prosecutor Saud al-Mojeb later said he was killed in a premeditated attack.