On August 25-27, for the third time since becoming president of Egypt, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi heads to Russia amid a strange media silence over the fast-growing strategic alliance. Much of the western media and experts prefer to cover the development in bilateral ties in with a mixture of skepticism or just ignore this fact.
This article is prepared by Daniel Diess exclusively for SouthFront
The dynamic of high-level visits are hopeful:
President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi visited Russia on August 12, 2014
President of Russia, Vladimir Putin visited Egypt on February 9-10, 2015
President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi took part in Victory Day celebration in Russia on May 9, 2015
Prime Minister of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev visited the New Suez Canal opening ceremony on August 6, 2015
President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi visited Russia oon August 25-27, 2015
According to the official statements, the main issues on the agenda of the Russian-Egyptian relations are economic cooperation and the joint fight against terrorism.
“We are ready to use the ruble and the Egyptian pound in mutual settlements in this sphere [tourism] to avoid problems that now emerge with the dollar exchange rate,” the Egyptian leader said in the interview following his visit to Moscow.
In the same interview Abdel Fattah el-Sisi noted the importance of the joint fight against terrorism:
“The map of terrorism and extremism is spreading… A common global strategy is needed and all the countries should fight against this evil.”
Furthermore, the free-trade zone between Egypt and the countries of Eurasian Economic Community customs union project’s kickoff meeting will be set in 2015. Additionally, Russia is going to sell Egypt 12 of the Sukhoi Superjet 100 in light of strengthening cooperation between both countries in the aviation field. Russia will also take a part in developing the Egyptian grain infrastructure. Russia supplied 4 million tons of grain to Egypt in 2014. It’s 30 percent of the Egypt’s annual requirement.
Russia-Egypt deals in the energy sphere include:
The sides agreed to build a first Egyptian nuclear power plant. The Russian state corporation “Rosatom” will take part in it.
“Gazprom” and “Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company” signed a deal on supplying the natural compressed gas.
The Russain-Egyptian trade reached 5,5 bn dollars in 2014. It’s 86 percent more then in 2013.
Another important point is that Egyptian leader noted a similarity of Russian and Egyptian point of view on the situation in the Middle East:
“We have strong confidence in the Russians, as they have proven throughout this crisis, for four years, that they are sincere and transparent in their relationship with us.”
“Russia’s stance on Syria is rigid and consistent. President Putin has made it clear that Assad is Syria’s legitimate president and Russia is against foreign involvement [in the country’s affairs] which will force the Syrian people to accept certain conditions, like securing peace in exchange for Assad’s resignation.”
The same thing Vladimir Putin proved, noting an importance of building a wide counter-terrorist front line with key international and regional players, including Syria.
Despite the economical statements, one of the most important issues is military cooperation:
Egypt has ordered Ka-52 helicopters but the delivery has not started yet, according to the source that did not specify the time frame and sum of the contract.
The T-14 Armata tank will be shown to delegates from Egypt during RAE 2015, the military equipment and arms expo in the city of Nizhny Tagil in the Urals Federal District, in September.
According to the Kremlin press service, Russia is ready to assist Egypt in developing armored and security forces
Russia gifted Egypt the Molnya-class missile corvette R-32 in honor of the New Suez Canal opening ceremony.
Russia is trying to play a significant role in solving the Middle East conflicts, especially Syrian, needs new alliances as growing political, military and economic cooperation with Egypt. The rise of the Russian participation in the Syrian conflict as establishing a forward operating air base in the Damascus area has been requiring more and more efforts on the diplomatic ground.
Thus, Russia needed regional support to reach an agreement on Syria, and this was one of the topics to be discussed during the visit. Russia has been formulating an initiative that would include all key countries in the region to save the unity of Syrian territories, set an effective anti-ISIS front and, in long terms, establish peace in the region. Regional support is clearly needed to reach all these goals.
In turn, Egypt seeks for allies to play a louder role in the Middle East region. In the recent time, the country faced a number of internal issues as social unrest and jihadist threats and a political destabilization. So, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has to show a high diplomatic activity to gain resources for solving internal problems and strengthen influence in the Arabian world.