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Saudi Arabia Congratulates New Egyptian Ruler, West ‘Concerned’

Saudi Arabia’s king has already congratulated Egypt’s new head of state, while Western leaders express concern and call for “dialogue.”
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 7/4/2013, 9:36 AM

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s king has already congratulated Egypt’s new transitional head of state, while Western leaders express concern and call for “dialogue.”

Saudi King Abdullah sent a message of congratulations to Supreme Constitutional Court chief justice Adly el-Mansour on Wednesday immediately following his appointment as the new head of Egypt’s transitional government by Egyptian Army Commander General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in the hours after the overthrow of Muslim Brotherhood-backed President Mohamed Morsi.

“In the name of the people of Saudi Arabia and on my behalf, we congratulate your leadership of Egypt in this critical period of its history,” the message said, according to the Saudi state news agency SPA. “We pray for God to help you bear the responsibility laid upon you to achieve the ambitions of our brotherly people of Egypt.”

But Western leaders were more wary, with most expressing deep concern and calling on el-Mansour and the Egyptian Army to avoid violence and preserve the principles of democracy.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed for calm and restraint in Egypt following the overthrow Wednesday of Muslim Brotherhood-backed President Mohamed Morsi.

Ban called for the preservation of rights such as freedom of expression and assembly after the Egyptian Army removed Morsi from power and said it would instead install a “presidential council” until elections could be held at an undetermined date.

“Military interference in the affairs of any state is of concern,” Ban said in a statement. “Therefore, it will be crucial to quickly reinforce civilian rule in accordance with principles of democracy.”

The European Union also issued a statement Thursday calling for a rapid return to democracy in Egypt.

“I urge all sides to rapidly return to the democratic process, including the holding of free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections and the approval of a constitution, to be done in a fully inclusive manner, so as to permit the country to resume and complete its democratic transition,” said EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in the statement.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle also echoed Ban’s concerns, saying, “We call on all concerned parties to stay in the path of democracy, avoid violence and show confidence in dialogue.

Speaking to reporters during a visit to Greece, Westerwelle said dialogue, the desire for compromise and balance between political factions are necessary for the stability of Egypt’s new political regime, the AFP news agency reported.

U.S. President Barak Obama also expressed “deep concern” and said America planned to review its prior approval of a $1.3 military aid package to Egypt. Obama called for a swift return to democratic rule and asked the army to refrain from "arbitrary arrests" of Morsi and his supporters.

A U.S. official said the State Department meanwhile has ordered all nonessential U.S. diplomats and families of all embassy personnel to leave Egypt, due to concerns over potential violence. Speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity, the official said the State Department has placed the U.S. Embassy in Cairo on “ordered departure” status for non-emergency staff and dependents of all employees – meaning all those covered by the order are mandated to leave the country.