Egypt-Russia Ties Strengthen; Did the US Play Political Roulette?

A political compliment and a potential arms deal are hinting that Egypt may have found its new best friend after its relationship with America soured last year: Russia. Egyptian Defense Minister and possible Presidential candidate Field Marshal Abdulfattah el-Sisi visited Russia this week, and The Daily Telegraph reported that he received quite the campaign boost.

Without even announcing his run for Egyptian presidency yet, Sisi got the public backing of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Daily Telegraph reported that Putin said, “I know that you have made a decision to run for president. That’s a very responsible decision: to undertake such a mission for the fate of the Egyptian people. On my own part, and on behalf of the Russian people, I wish you success.” And Russia’s support goes beyond words. Could the old Cold War Egypt-Russia alliance be back?

The United States set up this rapprochement between Egypt and Russia by publicly rapping Egypt over the violent crackdown on protestors last year following Egypt’s military coup. What’s more, US media reported that the Americans even cut military aid to Egypt. It was a gamble to handle it all so openly, and it may have failed miserably. Consider it political roulette.

That has the Egyptians looking elsewhere for new best friends. The Daily Telegraph reported that no deal has been signed yet, but leaks claim it could be worth $2 billion in arms sales.

Overall, the more important news is that Russia—long an ally of Iran and Syria—looks to be trying to pry Egypt out of the American-Saudi Arabia orbit. If Egypt bites, and The Daily Telegraph questioned their financial ability to do so even if they wanted it, that could be a huge blow to the pro-West forces in the Middle East.

Iran, Syria and Lebanon are already together, and Turkey may join them. Egypt would create quite the powerful bloc to oppose Israel, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

A lot of geography, I know. But if Egypt turns to Russia, geography won’t be the only course you should review. Cold War history ought to be on the list as well.

(By Joshua Spurlock,, February 13, 2014)

What do you think?