An Egyptian court has decided to void a maritime border agreement between Cairo and Riyadh over the control of two strategic Red Sea islands in response to Saudi Arabia’s decision to halt shipments of fuel to Egypt. The Saudi government had promised to provide Egypt with 700,000 tons of refined fuel under a $23 billion aid deal. Reports say the shipment of the Saudi fuel to Egypt stopped on October 1. Press TV has interviewed two panelists to discuss the growing rift between Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Hazem Salem, a Middle East expert, said on Thursday night that the current tensions between Saudi Arabia and Egypt come from their differences on a set of expectations and interests not only the single issue of Saudi promised oil and money.

“Both Riyadh and Cairo had higher expectations from each other, but once the expectations failed to fulfill for each of them, things became to unfold in this negative way,” Salem said.

“Egypt have seen Saudi Arabia as a bag of money and thought that for every step that Egypt can take pro-Saudi Arabia it should be rewarded with money or oil, and Saudi Arabia thought that Egypt can be also drawn into Saudi positions as long as Egypt needs the money and needs the financial aids,” he said.

“The Saudis wanted to be part of the strategic security arrangements in the Red Sea which involves Israel and gets Saudi Arabia indirectly into the peace process and into the accord of the Camp David and that’s why Saudi Arabia wanted these two islands of Tiran and Sanafir,” which are located at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba, he noted.

Both Saudi Arabia and Egypt are trying to show their dominance on the region, he said, adding that the Saudis wanted to pay money to the Egyptian government to say Riyadh has the upper hand in bilateral ties, but Cairo wanted to get the Saudi money and still push for its own policies.

“The Saudis wanted to hire the Egyptian army either in Yemen or in Syria, but the Egyptians had different views about how to utilize the Egyptian military in the region.”

According to the analyst, the rift between the Saudi and Egyptian governments was not expected a year ago and “there was much more harmony between Egypt and Saudi Arabia because each country thought of the other as an ally that can serve its own interests and can work on certain terms.”

He further pointed to the US policy in response to the growing tension between Cairo and Riyadh.

“The international community and in particular the West want to keep Egypt and Saudi Arabia in line together to serve the American interests,” but “the Americans cannot intervene and they cannot help [because] there is a mismatch of expectations,” he stated.

The Egyptian and Saudi governments pursue “different agendas in the region and the big brother (the US) is not capable of making these agendas match the American interests,” he said.

He noted that there is a problem for the three parties, including the Americans who have relations with Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and the Saudis who are shrinking in their role and options in the region, as well as the Egyptians who have much limited options.

However, he argued, Egypt needs financial aid from the United States or Saudi Arabia; therefore, Cairo cannot play “an independent role,” but tries to resort to such a “maneuver” to claim it is independent.

Another panelist, Lawrence J. Korb, a political commentator, said the rift between Egypt and Saudi Arabia is not significant, adding the two countries are working together where they can.

The Egyptian government prefers a political settlement in Syria to pave the ground for eradicating Daesh Takfiri terrorists, while Saudi Arabia has used terrorist groups to topple the government in Damascus, he said.

According to the analyst, the United States would like both Saudi Arabia and Egypt to get along and work together.

The rift between Saudi Arabia and Egypt, however, is deepening amid disagreements about regional politics, including the warming of ties between Moscow and Cairo, Egypt’s refusal to send troops to Yemen and Syria, the Egyptians’ opposition to Saudi-backed Salafi terrorists and differences on the interpretation of Sunni Islam.