Russia tries to edge out Europe and US in MENA
John C.K. Daly

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on October 17, at the end of the 3-day state visit to Russia. Sisi’s prize for the journey — his fourth to Russia since taking office in 2014 — was what officials described as a strategic cooperation treaty designed to increase trade, military and other ties between the two countries.

Sisi lauded his conversations with Putin as extremely productive. They open, he said, a “new chapter” of the bilateral relationship. Putin said the two men discussed expanding arms sales and military ties. He emphasised that Russian and Egyptian paratroopers were conducting joint military manoeuvres in Egypt even as he and Sisi spoke.

Russia’s deepening relationship with Egypt is another manifestation of a process that has been under way under Putin’s leadership. Simply put, it is this: the re-emergence of Russia as a counterweight to Europe and America in the Middle East and Africa.

The process has historical antecedents. During the post-second world war era pretty much to the end of the Soviet Union, Moscow played a significant role in the global decolonisation process.

From Algeria to Vietnam, the Soviet Union supplied weaponry to former colonial states fighting for independence. It did so under the socialist rubric of support for “wars of national liberation.” In Africa, Moscow became involved in proxy wars in several countries, including Angola, Ethiopia and Mozambique. It helped independence movements fight Western colonial powers.

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