The slightest of losses


It is quite clear that after every little development in the relationship between Egypt and Russia, Washington hurries to inquire about it from Cairo while offering its tempting services, setting out its base conditions and making ill-advised threats. The last of these incidents occurred when Al-Sisi visited Moscow which was subsequently followed by a visit from a US congressional delegation to Egypt.

The US delegation’s visit to Egypt this time was characterised by sweet talk regarding the strong and strategic relationship between Egypt and the US. They said that the relationship between Egypt and Russia did not worry or pose a threat to Washington and that Egypt is, of course, free to choose whoever as a friend. Moreover, they made promises to participate in the Suez Canal development project, to encourage military cooperation and to offer financial aid.

However, the US seemed slightly reluctant to support Egypt, and could not hide its confusion concerning how to deal with us and how to understand the facts on the ground, especially after Ambassador Anne Patterson lost her credibility and left. As for Obama, it seems he does not see nor hear, and the bet he made on the Brotherhood terrorist group was lost, while his administration is ignoring the right to self-determination for Egyptians. The differences between the two countries have escalated to the point of a boycott. This was not strange to a relationship that was always subject to regional and international assessments and conflicts.

On the other hand, Putin strongly and courageously supports Egypt and is totally ready to compensate its needs and losses. He is keen to enhance common interests within the framework of mutual friendship and he may pay a visit to Egypt soon. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the Russian-Egyptian relationship is a priority for Moscow. He further described the ties between the two countries as strong and that they have passed all the historical tests. The official Egyptian statements concerning the matter were realistic and practical, referring to the relationships between the two countries as an attempt to supply decision makers in Egypt with more options for the sake of the national welfare. The statements stressed that this is a new stage characterised by greater cooperation and an attempt to further promote the current relationship. Perhaps the Egyptian way of expression indicates some keenness not to provoke the US.

History notes that Moscow provided Egypt in the 1950’s and 1960’s with technological, economic and military aid. We actually fought Israel with Russian weapons in the 1970’s. This means there is a common solid ground upon which we can build a better future. But if Egypt was used as a tool of war before, now it will not be part of any conflict between Russia and US, and it will not work with or be an ally to any of them against the other.

Washington is required to preserve what is left of the relationship with us, which means respecting Egypt’s new reality and giving up its bias to its terrorist allies. Yet, I doubt it will do so, maybe for fear of a violent terrorist reaction, or maybe this fear was what made it an ally to them in the first place. US insists on using its terrorist allies in its wars abroad. Its conspiracies will make it suffer major strategic losses including the privilege of being the biggest arms exporter to Egypt for 40 years, in addition to having the greatest military influence in the region. In this case, Russia has the right to make use of what the US has lost and the right to regain its lost influence in the region after Sadat assumed office in 1970’s. Similarly, Egypt has the right to promote its relationship with Moscow, especially after the US had decided to halt its military aid to Cairo.

Salwa Habib is a senior columnist and an expert on Egyptian-American relations.