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sisi on the march
Egypt Stabilizes Economy, Turns Toward Russia

Is Egypt finally out of the woods? The economy is forecast to grow slightly in the current fiscal year, and Fitch has upgraded Egypt’s outlook from “negative” to “stable” for the first time since the 2011 revolution.

Meanwhile, military chief (and future President?) Abdel Fattah el-Sisi arrived in Moscow today for talks with President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Sisi received a warm welcome and message of support from Putin: “I know that you, Mr. Defense Minister, have decided to run for President of Egypt,” said Putin. “It’s a very responsible decision…. I wish you luck both from myself personally and from the Russian people.”

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu elaborated: “We are closely watching the situation in your country. We are interested in Egypt being a strong and stable country.” Many view Sisi’s visit as a step away from the United States and the Obama Administration. Russia is quite happy to step in. Al Jazeera’s Paul Brennan reports that his sources expect Sisi and his counterparts in Russia to conclude a major arms deal. The deal, reportedly worth $2 billion, will be funded mainly by Egypt’s patrons in the Gulf.

Egypt’s future is still very much up in the air. But money from the Gulf is pumping in, the relationship with Russia is warming, and the smart money is on Sisi riding a wave of popularity all the way to the office of the President. In short, there seems to be a light glimmering for Egypt at the end of the tunnel. The question is, can Sisi and the Egyptian military effectively clamp down on the Islamist insurgency?

Egypt is the anchor of the Middle East. In a negative sense, the difficulties of both democracy and development in Egypt help keep the region from moving very far forward very fast. On the positive side, Egypt’s strong sense of national identity and historical continuity limit what would otherwise be a much more dangerous situation in the region.

At the moment, there is virtually no chance that Egypt will break out to the upside. All the questions are about whether the military government can keep the security situation from turning much worse.

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  • Andrew Allison

    Ukraine Redux.

  • TommyTwo

    “Many view Sisi’s visit as a step away from the United States and the Obama Administration.”

    Mubarak threw his lot in with the Yanks, and Assad with the Russkies.

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