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

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country 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.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid