Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is winning a big chip in the worldwide game of poker that Russia plays against the U.S.: Egypt. Putin said this week that Field Marshal Sisi, 59, who is likely to run for the presidency in Egypt and is in Moscow to negotiate a $2 billion arms deal with Russia, has his backing if he runs. Putin said he was “aware” that Sisi has decided to run, although Sisi has not declared publicly that he will do so. Putin said: “I know that you, mister defense minister, have decided to run for president of Egypt. I wish you luck both from myself personally and from the Russian people.”
Egypt’s new constitution calls for an election by mid-April. Two weeks ago Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf) said publicly that it would support a Sisi presidential bid. Last week the Egyptian military denied a Kuwaiti report that Sisi had said he would run. The military said any announcement would “be done via clear and direct statements that cannot be doubted or misinterpreted.”
What happened to the close ties between the U.S. and Egypt that had been carefully nurtured since Anwar Sadat turned the Egypt-Riusiia axis into an Egypt-U.S. alliance? Two words: Barack Obama.
Obama interfered in the Egyptian internal process when Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down, choosing to support the Muslim Brotherhood instead of letting the process take its natural course. When demonstrations against Mubarak started and Mubarak realized he would have to step down, he appointed Ahmed Shafik Zaki as prime minister. The Muslim Brotherhood started negotiating with Zaki, but three days later the ultimatum came from the U.S.: Mubarak had to resign immediately, which he did.
Then, when elections were held, Morsi declared victory while Zaki wanted to challenge the results in court. But the U.S. immediately sided with Morsi, delighted that the Muslim Brotherhood could take power.
Last November, Obama was accused of crimes against humanity in a complaint submitted to the International Criminal Court, based in the Hague. The complaint, filed by a group of Egyptian lawyers, said, “Obama cooperated, incited, and assisted the armed elements of the Muslim Brotherhood in the commission of crimes against humanity in the period from 3/7/2013-8/18/2013, in the Arab Republic of Egypt.”
As Egyptian-American writer Raymond Ibrahim wrote:
Above and beyond the accusations of crimes against humanity that the lawyer-drafted complaint cited by El Watan levels against the Brotherhood, one need only look to the fate of Egypt’s Christian minority, who were especially targeted by the Muslim Brotherhood–and thus, by extension, their supporter, Obama–to see numerous examples of nearly every aforementioned definition of crimes against humanity.
Also last November, it was reported that Moscow was planning to sign a landmark agreement to deliver air defense systems to Egypt’s army. Rostec chief Sergey Chemezov said the contract was simply waiting for Egypt to secure the funding. There were strong rumors that Saudi Arabia would pick up the check.
Obama has championed virtually every Islamist movement in the Middle East while abandoning our traditional allies while Putin has been watching for an opening. Now it looks as though Egypt will also be lost.