The West traditionally views any progress in relations between Arab countries and Moscow as an inroad against the Western interests. The decision by the new Egyptian leaders to send the Egyptian Defense Minister, Field Marshal Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, to Moscow is the result of a thorough analysis of the emerging situation in Egypt and the Middle East as a whole.
The decision by the new Egyptian leaders to send the Egyptian Defense Minister, Field Marshal Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, to Moscow is the result of a thorough analysis of the emerging situation in Egypt and the Middle East as a whole.
Today we can draw many parallels with how events developed after the revolution in 1952, when the military first came to power in Egypt. The West during that period was unable to live up to the new leadership’s expectations, who wanted independence and dynamic development for their country. This prompted Cairo to put out feelers for opportunities to forge a relationship with Moscow. But today, events are developing at a much faster rate.
By all indicators, Cairo has due regard for Russia’s international and Mideast policies with its renunciation of pressure and emphatic determination for national sovereignty and the right of all nations to choose their own future. This is the approach that the majority of Egyptians would like to see from all foreign nations.
The West traditionally views any progress in relations between Arab countries and Moscow as an inroad against the Western interests. Needless to say, this is an outdated approach. What is needed today is a common coordinated policy to oppose radical, extremist and terrorist elements. Rivalries between various powers are inevitable of course, but today’s environment calls for new approaches based on painstaking efforts to harmonize each country’ interests for the sake of economic development and cooperation.
I think Egypt will pursue a well-balanced policy and try to sign cooperation agreements with all sides. The country’s leaders, including the business community, have typically taken this approach. A case in point is Ibrahim Kamel, Vice President of the Egypt-Russia Friendship Society and a prominent businessman, who did much to promote ties with Russia. At the same time, he headed the Egyptian business group at the presidential Egypt-U.S. Business Council.
Taking into consideration the speculations that prospective Russian arms supplies to the Egyptian army will be largely paid for by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, it is regrettable that the progress in relations between the Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia, which was evident in the early 2000s, has slowed down in recent years. The intergovernmental agreements made during that period, including on oil and gas, cooperation in science and so on, as well as understandings reached between the two countries’ business communities are being neglected. A painstaking and professional effort is needed to restore trust. At the same time, Russia and Saudi Arabia should prevent developments in third countries from influencing their bilateral relations. I believe there is too much of this influence now and it should be changed.
The current talk of Russian Mediterranean naval bases is a throwback to the 1950s. Stationing sites are no longer as important as in the past. Much has changed, including naval equipment. Ship maintenance should be less politicized, given today’s threats and challenges. Take, for example, antipiracy operations off the Somali coast. All countries seem to have a stake in success in that area.