A look at Egypt-Russia relations as Putin visits Cairo

2017-12-11 20:00
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. (Dmitri Lovetsky, AP File)

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. (Dmitri Lovetsky, AP File)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cairo - Relations between Russia and Egypt have rapidly grown over the past three years, with Presidents Vladimir Putin and Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi forging a multi-faceted relationship that features economic, military and political cooperation.

Here is a look at the history of this relationship and where it might be headed, as Putin pays his latest visit to Cairo.

Cold war ties

The young Egyptian officers who seized power in Egypt in 1952 and later toppled the monarchy initially flirted with the United States through various channels. But vociferous, anti-Israel rhetoric from Egypt's Arab nationalist leader Gamal Abdel-Nasser, coupled with Cold War realities, doomed any hope that Washington could become Cairo's superpower patron.

A 1955 deal to buy Soviet weapons through Czechoslovakia brought Egypt into the Soviet camp despite Cairo's efforts to remain non-aligned. Moscow later agreed to build a massive hydroelectric dam on the Nile in southern Egypt after the World Bank, reportedly at Washington's behest, declined to finance the project.

Relations plunged deeper when Egypt accused the United States of colluding with Israel in the 1967 Six Day War, in which Israeli troops seized the Sinai Peninsula. Following that war, Egypt's ties with Russia became much closer, with thousands of Russian military advisers stationed in Egypt, some with their families. Soviet-made military hardware poured into Egypt, from tanks and fighter-jets to helicopters and artillery pieces. Russian pilots even flew reconnaissance flights for the Egyptians over Israeli installations.

Switching camps 

The United States began to reassert its influence over Egypt when Washington brokered a 1970 cease-fire that ended months of intensive fighting between Egypt and Israel in the Suez Canal region and along the Red Sea coastline.

In a surprise move, President Anwar Sadat in 1972 expelled the Soviet military advisers, arguing that Moscow was not doing enough to help the Egyptians match Israel's military might. A year later, Egypt and Israel fought the last of their four wars and the road was paved for Washington to replace Moscow as the most dominant foreign power in the Middle East.

The US-brokered Camp David peace accords between Egypt and Israel cemented the new American-Egyptian alliance, transforming Egypt into a key US ally and the recipient of $1.3bn in annual foreign aid, which continues to this day.

Renewing ties 

Egyptian-American relations took a plunge after the military overthrew Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, the country's first freely elected leader, amid mass protests against his divisive rule in 2013.

President Barack Obama's administration criticized the move, which effectively ended Egypt's troubled transition to democracy, angering the country's new leaders. Since then, pro-government media have regularly accused Obama of siding with Morsi's now-banned Muslim Brotherhood group.

Al-Sisi, who as defense minister led the overthrow of Morsi and was elected president the following year, was quick to pivot toward Moscow. He has visited Russia twice since assuming office, and has struck deals to buy billions of dollars' worth of military hardware, including helicopter gunships and fighter jets.

An agreement to have a Russian company build a nuclear reactor was signed in Cairo on Monday. Late last month, Russia said it approved a draft agreement with Egypt to allow its warplanes to use Egyptian bases.

Al-Sisi has also cultivated close ties with US President Donald Trump, however, and relations with Moscow have not been problem-free.

The bombing of a Russian airliner over Egypt's Sinai Peninsula in October 2015, which killed all 224 people on board, prompted Moscow to suspend all flights to Egypt. More than two years later, the suspension remains in force and Egyptian tourism, heavily dependent on Russian tourists, is suffering. Egypt has spent millions of dollars to upgrade security at its airports, but the Russians remain reluctant to resume flights.

Read more on:    russia  |  egypt  |  north africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.