Foreign Policy Diary – Egypt after the Russian plane crash

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The recent events in Egypt have shown that Cairo hasn’t succeeded in its local war on terror in Sinai. Furthermore, this means that an unwritten agreement between Egypt, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia on not allowing terror acts in Egyptian resorts doesn’t work more. 2 month ago SouthFront: Analysis & Intelligence noted that Sinai is a place with the high terrorist activity and local terrorist formations, mostly pro-Qatari, conduct a serious threat to the Egyptian domestic security. The Ansar Bait al-Maqdis group claimed allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is entrenched in the northern Sinai. If the A321 was destroyed by a pro-Qatari group, it will cause Egypt’s anger and Riyadh’s displeasure. It will definitely conduct additional jitters among shaky Middle Eastern alliances.

We remember, in October, Cairo continued a series of trials of Islamists. 16 of them were sentenced to death. Meanwhile, experts believe that the Parliament strongly supporting decisions of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi will become the most expected result of the Egyptian parliament election started on October 17. El-Sisi has already supported the constructive efforts to solve the Syrian crisis in contrast to Qatar and Saudi Arabia exercising a strong line on deconstruction of the Assad government by any means. And the Egyptian attitude could be hardly changed by some accidentally arisen domestic political power.

Another important thing is Egypt has maintained one of the most powerful military in the Arab world. Now, this fact is especially crucial because the Saudi-led coalition forces have already shown in Yemen an inability to carry out military tasks successfully even with the intelligence, coordination and information support of a major world power as the United States. Instead, Egypt has been continuing to focus on developing and sustaining its military force.

On October 10, Cairo signed a contract with France to buy 2 two Mistral warships which France built for Russia. The contract price is about €950 million. Saudi Arabia will provide a significant part of this sum because it needs an ally with strong armed forces capable to conduct battle missions in the region. The other side of the contract is that Egypt will likely buy Russian special equipment and helicopters for Mistrals. From Cairo’s perspective it’s an obvious decision amid the fast developing relations between Russia and Egypt.

Thus, the recent developments have created conditions for Egypt to play a crucial role in handling of the crisis in Syria both diplomatic and military approaches. This will conform the geopolitical ambitions of Egypt which seeks to become a regional leader and could be supported by majority of regional and world powers.

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