Russia and Egypt: Back to the Future



… by  Vladimir Belyakov,   with  New Eastern Outlook, Moscow


Gen.Smedley Butler
General Smedley Butler

[ Editors Note: The real test of whether the Cold War will really ever be over is when we see all countries ‘allowed’ to have good relations with the East and the West.
This means that business will be conducted in the normal way without the assistance of gunboats, missiles and weapons of mass destruction.
Only then will our military be refocused on defending us from military assaults instead of it bullying role it so often finds itself playing.
Marine General Smedley Butler, with multiple Medals of Honor, admitted in his retirement that he had been nothing more than a hired gun for US business interests…’closing deals’ for them with military muscle.
With the US freeze on it’s support to the Egyptian military while the country trends back toward a military dictatorship, the Russians were quick to make a visit. One must have contact before they can do business.
This will rattle the cages of the Israelis who like to have their neighboring countries either under the gun or on their string. The post Muslim Brotherhood Egypt has cooperated with Israeli in tightening the stranglehold on Gaza.

But it must not be forgotten that the Gazan support for the Sinai insurgents was a brain dead move on their part, killing Egyptian police and troops, as it left Egypt no choice. Hamas, and moreso the Gazan people, have paid for it with the smuggling tunnels all closed down.

The Russians do not do business at the point of a gun, and neither do the Chinese. If countries get used to that they might tell the US that it’s no go dealing with them unless they leave their military home…until it is needed for a non-business purpose… Jim W. Dean ]


Russia and Egypt: Back to the Future


The Varyag missile cruiser
The Varyag missile cruiser

The recent weeks have marked a significant increase in the bilateral diplomatic activity between Russian and Egypt. It all started with the visit of the Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy and Egyptian Tourism Minister Hisham Zazou to Moscow.

It was succeeded by the two groups of the Egyptian public representatives visiting Russian capital within a short time span.

These groups were primarily composed of the leaders of the influential Egyptian political parties along with former high-profile authorities.

Then on November 11 the Russia’s missile cruiser Varyag docked in Alexandria Port making it the first Russian warship to visit Egypt in a long while. A few days after this event, Cairo witnessed the negotiation of two the Russian Ministers, Sergey Lavrov and Sergey Shoygu with the Egyptian authorities.

This outburst of activity is no accident. The left-wing liberals that came to power after the toppling of the former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi are redesigning the Egyptian foreign policy. The US has been the main geopolitical ally to Egypt for over five decades, since the times of Anwar Sadat.

After the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty of 1979 the United States has been providing the 1.3 billion dollars of military aid each year, along with the economy support funding of 815 million dollars that has been cut in half in the recent years.

For this “courtesy” Washington has been demanding Egypt to follow its changing interests in the Middle East, that at times opposed the interests of Egypt and its people.

Hosni Mubarak - Not dead yet
Hosni Mubarak – Not dead yet

Hosni Mubarak, once he was elected President in 1981, started to rebuild the ties with the USSR that had been demolished during the Sadat era.

By 1990 the bilateral relationships were restored to a point where two countries could cooperate effectively in a number of areas, the positive trend prevailed. But, out of the blue, the USSR ceased to exist.

This news came as the most unpleasant of all surprises to Cairo. Being in the 90s on a number of trips to Egypt myself I witnessed the talks of the disastrous consequences that the USSR disappearance had inflicted on the Egypt myself. “You left us tête-à-tête with the United States” – that’s what the people were saying.

While the former Russian President Boris Yeltsin was in power, Egypt was of little interest to Russia, despite the fact that the bilateral ties were improving slowly. The new century has brought a change. The trading relationships between the two countries improved, the numbers were skyrocketing, the relationships took a turn for the better.

Hosni Mubarak started visiting Moscow, the Russian presidents returned visits to Cairo, Vladimir Putin visited Egypt in 2005, four years later his successor Dmitry Medvedev went to the shores of Nile. The two countries have signed a document declaring the bilateral strategic partnership.

Thus on the eve of the Egyptian revolution of 2011 the state of Egypt–Russia relations was exceptional with the only omission – the military cooperation. This domain in the Egyptian foreign relations has been occupied by the United States for a long time, with all the attributes included. It’s no wonder that the people in the Tahrir square were wearing posters: “Hosni Mubarak – an American spy”

Egypt is still in the throes of simmering revolution
Egypt is still in the throes of simmering revolution

Back in 1955 the developing military cooperation between Egypt and the USSR did make a change.

This allowed Egypt to establish its independence, make a step forward in the socio-economic development and to take in 1973 back the lands in Sinai that had been occupied by Israel.

The memories of the Egypt that was able to stand for itself lives in the older generation of Egyptians. This was one of the reasons for Egypt’s turning to Russia after the toppling of Mohamed Morsi.

But definitely this was not the main reason. The thing is Russia, with the support of China, India and Brazil has managed to get Syria out of harm’s way. That’s why Syria did manage to escape the military aggression of the United States.

This showed the world that Washington cannot make its own decisions, disregarding the will of the rest of the World anymore. The fact gave Egypt a chance to re-balance its foreign policy ones and for all.

There’s no returning the past. In the recent decades Russia as the World itself has undergone through a major change. Today the formula “one friend till death tells us part” is not working anymore, and Egypt can establish cooperations with a number of countries that won’t harm its own interests.

Vladimir Belyakov, PhD in historical studies, he is a senior researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Oriental Studies, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

Editing:  Jim W. Dean




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Jim W. Dean was an active editor on VT from 2010-2022.  He was involved in operations, development, and writing, plus an active schedule of TV and radio interviews.