The War in Ukraine Presents an Opportunity to Drive a Wedge between Egypt and Russia

March 18 2022

Since 1979, Egypt has been a close ally of both Syria and the U.S, but, from the Obama administration on, Washington has sent Cairo mixed messages. That fact, combined with overlapping interests in Libya and Syria, has led President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to look increasingly to Russia. Ramy Aziz argues that the G7—the U.S., Japan, Canada, and the major European countries—can use the present situation in Ukraine to bring Egypt squarely back into their camp:

Russia is trying to influence Egyptians and portray them as supporting its attack on Ukraine. Russian officials and media sources are spreading false news about Russian actions, while using language claiming that Egypt is a past and present Russian ally in the region.

It is true that relations have grown between Russia and Egypt since Sisi came to power following the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013. Sisi received unequivocal political support from Putin at a time when relations between Egypt and Washington as well as Brussels were turbulent. Moscow likewise does not bring issues of freedom and human rights into its dealings with Egypt, which is convenient for the Sisi regime. Putin has repeatedly attempted to exploit this relationship to establish Russian influence in Egypt and return it to Russia’s orbit, as it was in the days of the Soviet Union.

These ties help explain Egypt’s weak official position on the Russian attack on Ukraine. However, it is also important to recognize that Egypt’s equivocal stance on Russia’s brutal military campaign in Ukraine is shaped by a set of fears over the effect Russia can have on the country’s economic stability. While these fears have some foundation, further assurances from the G7 and Cairo’s own policy adjustments can ameliorate pressure Russia could exert on the Egyptian economy. This can allow Cairo to side with its strategic allies regarding a conflict where Russia has clearly demonstrated itself as the aggressor.

In choosing its next steps, Egypt must also remember that it needs Western political support on a number of sensitive issues, such as its ongoing concerns over water and the Renaissance Dam.

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Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Egypt, Russia, U.S. Foreign policy, War in Ukraine

The Attempted Murder of Salman Rushdie Should Render the New Iran Deal Dead in the Water

Aug. 15 2022

On Friday, the Indian-born, Anglo-American novelist Salman Rushdie was repeatedly stabbed and severely wounded while giving a public lecture in western New York. Reports have since emerged—although as yet unverified—that the would-be assassin had been in contact with agents of Iran, whose supreme leaders have repeatedly called on Muslims to murder Rushdie. Meanwhile U.S. and European diplomats are trying to restore the 2015 nuclear agreement with Tehran. Stephen Daisley comments:

Salman Rushdie’s would-be assassin might have been a lone wolf. He might have had no contact with military or intelligence figures. He might never even have set foot in Tehran. But be in no doubt: he acted, in effect, as an agent of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Under the terms of the fatwa issued by Ayatollah Khomeini in February 1989, Rushdie “and all those involved in [his novel The Satanic Verses’s] publication who were aware of its content, are sentenced to death.” Khomeini urged “brave Muslims to kill them quickly wherever they find them so that no one ever again would dare to insult the sanctities of Muslims,” adding: “anyone killed while trying to execute Rushdie would, God willing, be a martyr.”

An American citizen has been the victim of an attempted assassination on American soil by, it appears, another American after decades of the Iranian supreme leader agitating for his murder. No country that is serious about its national security, to say nothing of its national self-worth, can pretend this is some everyday stabbing with no broader political implications.

Those implications relate not only to the attack on Rushdie. . . . In July, a man armed with an AK-47 was arrested outside the Brooklyn home of Masih Alinejad, an Iranian dissident who was also the intended target of an abduction plot last year orchestrated by an Iranian intelligence agent. The cumulative weight of these outrages should render the new Iran deal dead in the water.

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Read more at Spectator

More about: Freedom of Speech, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy