mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Putin in Egypt
The Pharaoh and the Bear

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Egypt Monday for a state visit in an occasion marked by effusive gestures by both sides. President Sisi arranged for Putin to be greeted with chanting schoolchildren, and President Putin gave Sisi a ceremonial AK-47. Then they got down to brass tacks. As The Financial Times reports:

The leaders were expected to discuss trade deals, with Moscow hinting that they may switch to local currencies for international transactions. Cairo has reportedly moved towards finalising a five-year natural gas export deal with Russia’s state-owned Gazprom and agreeing the sale of Russian wheat to Egypt, the world’s biggest importer. Mr Putin and Mr Sisi were also to discuss a potential $3bn arms deal and possible Russian help in establishing a nuclear plant northwest of Cairo.

All of this sounds alarming—and it’s meant to, echoing as it does Nasser’s alignment with the Soviet Union at a pivotal point in the Cold War. But despite Sisi’s sour words recently for the U.S. and the Gulf Arabs, he is not on the lookout for a new patron; the Russians simply don’t have the kind of money that the U.S. can shower on Egypt, let alone the billions upon billions that its Gulf Arab allies pump into it. Sisi isn’t looking to bolt, but rather flirting with the Russians to get more attention from those whom he really has his eye on.

For his part, in courting the Greeks, Cypriots, the Balkan states, and now Egypt, Putin has reminded us where the cracks are in the Western alliance system. It’s our good fortune that he does not have the funds it would take to really capitalize on these opportunities.

Features Icon
show comments
  • Fat_Man

    What did you expect. Obama won’t give Sisi the time of day because Sisi overthrew Obama’s main man, Morsi, and dissed his peps, the Muslim Brotherhood.

    Sisi is whistling the winners tune — “I got along without you before I meet you, I am going to get along without you now.

    The upside is that Obama has helped to force Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Israel to learn to work together.

    • FriendlyGoat

      Obama was not hoping that Egyptians would elect Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. C’mon.

      • gabrielsyme

        He may have hoped for Edward Said or Kim Kardashian to be elected, but he knew that the Muslim Brotherhood was going to win, and backed them strongly once they were. This isn’t really debateable.

        • Fat_Man

          Gabe: Do yourself a favor and do as I do. Ignore goat. He is a troll and ought to be ignored.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Just because TAI is inhabited by a nest of conservatives does not mean anyone with liberal views is a troll. I could call you an over-bearing and predictably-boring cynic, for instance, but I usually don’t.

          • gabrielsyme

            Sometimes sophistry needs to be confronted.

          • FriendlyGoat

            With Kim Kardashian?

          • gabrielsyme

            I’m not sure what’s worse: a pretence of incomprehension, or an actual failure to comprehend.

        • FriendlyGoat

          The Arab spring was populated in the square by many of the most liberal people in Egypt. They didn’t win, but Obama had no defensible place to be but on their side. After the brotherhood won, we were still somewhat obligated to abide by the will of the people. This is what America does and what it stands for. Bush, by the way, would probably have done the same thing just as he was obligated to cope with the election of Hamas in Gaza during his time.

          The “blame Obama for loving Muslims” shtick is just too much for the intelligence which SHOULD dominate at TAI. These hacks need to give it a rest and say something just slightly above trash-can level.

          • egjohnson21

            Precisely. Regardless of one’s political views, it’s not necessary to perpetuate a dubious conspiracy peddled by Michelle Bachman to meet her weekly fundraising quota.

        • Tom

          I’m actually going to say he didn’t know–which is, in many ways, an even worse indictment.

          • gabrielsyme

            Obama had already shown himself sympathetic to Muslim Brotherhood and allied movements before the overthrow of Mubarak, especially the AKP in Turkey. He went out of his way to invite members of the Muslim Brotherhood to his 2009 Cairo Speech, for instance, and he’s been fully willing to work with MB groups in Tunisia, Libya and Syria. There was really no doubt that the Brotherhood would be the leading group in a post-Mubarak Egypt, and it was beyond the (very substantial) incompetence of the Obama Administration not to know it.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service