Saudi Arabia recalls envoy to Egypt, closes embassy amid security threats

  • Egyptian protesters demonstrate in front of the Saudi Embassy in Cairo in this April 24, 2012 photo. (AP)


    Published: Apr 28, 2012 17:27 Updated: Apr 28, 2012 18:33

    JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia on Saturday recalled its ambassador to Egypt and closed its embassy and consulates, citing threats to the security of its staff.

    State news agency SPA said Ambassador Ahmad Al-Qattan was recalled for “consultation” following "unjustified demonstrations" in front of the Saudi embassy in Cairo missions and consulates in Alexandria and Suez that were threatening the security of both Saudi and Egyptian staff.

    Protesters have tried to storm the missions over the arrest of an Egyptian lawyer who tried to enter the kingdom for alleged possession of illegal drugs.

    Egyptian activists claimed that lawyer Al-Gizawi (whose name in passport is Ahmed Mohammed Tharwat Al-Sayyid) was arrested for insulting King Abdullah after filing a complaint against Saudi Arabia for its treatment of Egyptian citizens in Saudi prisons.

    Al-Qattan has said Al-Gizawi was detained at the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah on April 24 after customs officials seized 21,380 narcotic pills found hidden in the packet of baby milk powder and cases of two copies of the Holy Qur’an from Al-Gizawi's luggage.

    "Even though Al-Gizawi arrived on an Umrah visa, he was not wearing pilgrims’ Ihram clothes,” the ambassador said was quoted earlier as saying.

    Following the “surprise decision” by Riyadh to withdraw its envoy, the head of Egypt’s ruling military council contacted the Saudi government, the Egyptian state news agency reported.

    Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi was working to “heal the rift” that had resulted from the decision. “The Field Marshal conducted contacts with the Saudi authorities to work to contain the situation,” the state agency MENA said.