News / Middle East

Moscow Jolts US–Egypt Ties

Egypt’s interim president Adly Mansour (R) meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (2-L), and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu (L) on November 14, 2013 at the presidential palace in Cairo. (AFP)
Egypt’s interim president Adly Mansour (R) meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (2-L), and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu (L) on November 14, 2013 at the presidential palace in Cairo. (AFP)
Mohamed Elshinnawi
The recent visit to Cairo by Russia’s Foreign and Defense ministers is focusing renewed attention on the deterioration in relations between the U.S. and Egypt since the July 3 military ouster of elected president Mohammed Morsi.  Since then Washington has blocked some major arms shipments – something Russian officials seem eager to take advantage of. 

Speaking in Cairo, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu said the Russian delegation’s visit was designed to re-start long dormant defense ties between the two nations.

“We agreed to take steps toward creating a legal basis for our agreements on military collaboration” Shoygu said after a meeting with his Egyptian counterpart, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Cairo.

Alarms were further raised in Washington when Russia’s state-controlled industrial holding company announced that Moscow had signed a deal to provide Cairo with advanced air-defense systems – a deal potentially worth $2 billion. 

“It is another sign that perhaps would push things more in the direction of a declining relationship with the U.S., it is a message to Washington that there are alternatives allies,” said Khaled Elgindy, Foreign Policy Fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy.

But others say the concerns are overblown.  

“It is designed by the Egyptian government to signal its frustration with the U.S. insufficient understanding of why the army intervened to remove President Mohamed Morsi,” said Eric Trager, who is with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Trager argues that the Egyptian American relationship is a strategic one that is based on give and take.

“Egypt has been allowing priority access to the Suez Canal for U.S. ships as well as over flight rights in exchange for the $1.3 billion given annually in military aid,” he said.

Badr Abdel Atty, a spokesman for Egypt's Foreign Ministry, also played down tensions with the U.S.

"A bilateral visit by Russian ministers of defense and foreign affairs represents a very important political message to the world," he said. "Our strategy is to expand, not to replace one party with another.”

Tensions go deeper

Amy Hawthorne, a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council finds rising ant-American sentiment as one of the challenges facing the bilateral relations.

“Many Egyptians believed that the U.S. was supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and does not care very much about their revolution because the U.S. has had a difficult time explaining that its support for former President Morsi was based on the fact that he was elected by the majority of the Egyptian people,” she said.

Hawthorne says some Egyptian officials have exploited this issue.

“Unfortunately, it does seem at times that elements in the Egyptian government are directly encouraging inaccurate reports, information and even rumors about the U.S. in the state-owned media,” she said.

Democratic Congressman James Moran perceives this as unhealthy development.

“When only 1 percent of Egyptians trust the U.S., that means they are grossly deceived and manipulated by some of the Egyptian media and the Egyptians should verify the information they get,” Moran said. “The American people have given more than $50 billion to Egypt over the last generation and there should be some level of appreciation.”

Moving forward

Michele Dunne, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace argues that Egypt and the U.S. must set new goals for the relationship so that it reaches beyond the institutions of government.

“What needs to be done is a reassessment of the strategic relationship, a broad dialogue with Egyptian government, Egyptian opposition, other political forces, civil society and reshaping the bilateral relations,” she said.

Elgindy agrees and says there is a room for a much deeper relationship that is not based purely on military-to-military or government-to-government ties.

“Egyptians would appreciate such a broader relationship with the society beyond dealing only with the military and or the government," he said. "Following the popular uprising of January 2011,the U.S. has fallen into the same trap of preferring the elite bargains of the past; choosing to deal with those in power while neglecting the many other actors involved in this very complex relationship.”

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
November 22, 2013 8:07 PM
Let me add that the one-minded nature of most 'common' people would get in the way of this argument that we should cooperate with one another because it would demand that a nation choose over another. Egypt is better than this, I think, even with all the social and political problems IN have been reading about on the internet. It is up to the u.s. and russia to decide whether this atmosphere of cold war continues between us. It is up to Egyptians to decide their fate ultimately not the u.s. or the russians. The dollar rules in this decision that must be decided by Egyptians and other currencies should stand by market standards. Egypt must do what is good for its people and not cow to the u.s. or the russians. I feel that agreements to this affect may be made that everyone can live with. This polarity need not be fatalistic in this very nature. This polarity effects changes by dominance over Egypt and does not respect the needs of Egypt. This idealism is an idea that is very difficult to live up to.

by: john rocha jr from: san francisco, usa
November 22, 2013 7:34 PM
I feel that Egypt must maintain an attitude that allows the use of the Suez Canal by all countries, not just the US. This strategic dance is predicated on the ideas of national dominance of one or the other but not on both sharing in Egypt's governance on these power struggles, especially as they involve usage of the Suez Canal. This is one world and we must behave as if it is.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs