On November 13 Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu arrived in Cairo for two days talks with acting President of Egypt Adli Mansour and their Egyptian counterparts Defense Minister Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and Egypt's Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy.
The «2 + 2» format is a new phenomenon in the Russian-Egyptian relations. The meeting resulted in agreements on expanding economic, political, military and cultural cooperation. An arms deal is an issue on the agenda. The package may be worth $2 billion with the shopping list to include MIG-29 fighters, air-defense systems, anti-tank Kornet systems and combat helicop-ters… According to Israeli sources, some time before the event a Russian military delegation had come to Egypt to tackle the issue of upgrading its port facilities to birth Russian Navy ships. At the very same time two Russian warships dropped anchors in Egypt for a friendly port-call.
Egypt inserted changes into its foreign policy to launch rapprochement with Russia after former President Morsi lost power in July 2013. Allied with Muslim Brothers, he stuck to the policy aimed at islamization of Egypt’s public life. With his endorsement units of Islamist militia were formed to collide with left oriented democratic parties. Islamist radicals attacked Christian sacred places. Morsi severed ties with Syria and encouraged Islamists to join Syrian armed anti-government formations. He adhered to pro-US foreign policy. In its turn the United States sup-ported political Islam in Egypt.
The overthrow of Morsi was a logical result of discontent and protest displayed by great numbers of Egyptians against particularist policies of Muslim Brothers who failed to become a uniting force for Egyptian society. Led by Defense Minister Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi the military staged an overthrow bringing Morsi down. It met the will of people, there had been over 20 mil-lion signatures collected to call for the President’s resignation by the time. The change of power was supported by Constitutional Court, Egypt’s Mufti, the leadership of Al-Azhar (the most re-spected Muslim University) and Coptic Patriarch. The overthrow was a debacle for the whole US Middle East policy. Naturally, Washington called the events in Egypt a military «coup d’état» and exerted pressure on the new Egyptian leadership. The US suspended arms supplies and cur-tailed annual economic aid. The newly installed government of Egypt let know it won’t cede to American pressure.
Cairo chose the rapprochement with Russia as an alternative. It was not a bargaining chip against the background of US-Egyptian relationship cooling down. It reflected the fact that the forces supporting the ideology and values espoused by Gamal Abdel Nasser have come to domi-nate the country’s political scene. A political block is formed to include the Nasserist Party, the Democratic Front Party, Al-Karama (the Dignity Party) etc.
Gamal Abdel Nasser led the 1952 overthrow of monarchy. He was the President of Egypt in 1956-1970. Nasser is known as an outstanding political figure of his time and an influential actor on international scene. His anti-imperialist political platform was inspired by nationalism mixed with the elements of socialism and Islam. During his tenure Egypt achieved impressive results in its social and economic development to become a recognized leader of Arab world and non-aligned movement that enjoyed a conspicuous place in international affairs those days.
In the Nasser’s days the cooperation between Egypt and the Soviet Union reached its peak in all spheres. Thousands of Egyptian specialists got their graduation degrees in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, new branches of industry were created from scratch with the Sovi-et help. The most vivid examples of the bilateral cooperation those days was the construction of Aswan dam. The USSR stood by Egypt in the days of UK-France-Israel aggression in 1956. Just one warning statement on the part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was enough to put an end to it and make invaders leave the Egyptian soil. This period of history is well remembered in Egypt today. It was once again confirmed during the November visit to Russia by Egyptian delegation including the leader of Nasserist Party Ahmed Hassan, the head of Egyptian National Movement Party Yahya Al-Kadri and Khmadi Al-Fahrani who heads the Democratic Front.
Many Egyptians view Defense Minister General Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi as Nasser’s successor. No doubt they give him credit for getting Egypt rid of Islamists’ sway and toppling Morsi this July. It was not just an occasion that Al-Sisi chose July 23 – the date of Egyptian revolution led by Nasser – to deliver a speech devoted to the power changes in the country. As the members of Egyptian delegation, that recently visited Moscow, told me – quite often the Al-Sisi supporters hit the streets holding the portraits of General Al-Sisi, Nasser and Russian President Putin to-gether. It symbolizes the reality. The success of Russian initiative on Syria’s chemical weapons and its growing clout at the talks on Iranian nuclear program are all signs of Russia’s return to the Middle East as a great power…