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5 ways Egypt and the Arab world benefit from Russian-Egyptian cooperation

Russia’s re-established strong relations with Egypt are a boost for the Arab world.

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Following Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu’s visit to Egypt, Moscow and Cairo have agreed that Russian Aerospace Forces will have the right to use Egypt’s air bases. In addition to both permanent and temporary bases in Syria, this means that Russia now has two friendly states in the Middle East with whom it can rely on for defence and security cooperation.

While this represents an achievement in the steadily re-ignited positive relations between Egypt and Moscow, which have attained their most fruitful levels since the Nasser era, ultimately, the move is more important for Egypt than for Russia.

In the Nasser era, Egypt was the undisputed leader of the Arab world and the wider Middle East. It’s geo-political leadership, military strength and economic might meant that other countries looked first to Cairo for all matters concerning pan-Arab issues.

Today, Egypt’s position is far weaker, although Egypt remains incredibly important as the most populous Arab state. Under President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, Egypt has restored secular rule after a brief period of being held captive by a Muslim Brotherhood regime. The terrorist group is once again illegal in Egypt.

However, since 2013 when Egypt re-established normalcy in government, Cairo has become overly reliant on Saudi Arabian investments. In spite of this, Egypt still shows some degree of geo-political independence on issues such as Lebanon. Cairo recently refused to join Saudi Arabia in sanctioning Hezbollah, much to the chagrin of Riyadh.

Beyond this however, Egypt’s warming relations with Russia could help to ensure Cairo’s geo-political independence, as in recent years the country has been far too reliant on both Saudi money and American geo-political cooperation to truly exercise the kind of sovereign regional leverage it achieved in the age of Nasser and the Non-Aligned Movement which he co-founded.

While the agreement with Russia does not change Egypt’s position overnight, it does signify an important building block in a longer-term relationship that could help Egypt become more independently assertive in the following ways.

1. Palestine 

Under Nasser, Egypt was the most important supporter of Palestine. Egypt’s historical ties to Palestine still carry some amount of weight, as Cairo was the location of a recent meeting between the Palestinian parties Fatah and Hamas which resulted in a power-sharing agreement, the conditions of which are still attempting to be implemented in Gaza, in spite of a new Israeli onslaught.

Since 1979 when Egypt normalised relations with the Israeli regime, Cairo has been less generous to the Palestinians. However, if Russia were to become more involved in Egypt, Cairo could become more assertive in this area.

Russia retains a balanced relationship with both Palestine and the regime in Tel Aviv, but crucially, Russia’s most important Arab ally Syria is the last Arab country in which supporting Palestine is a major policy issue.

While many highlight the fact that Russia does not consider it within its mandate to stop illegal Israeli attacks on Syria, what many neglect to realise is that if not for Russia’s presence in Syria, Israeli forces could have attacked and occupied more parts of Syria than that which they already do.

Tel Aviv will not want to risk Russia’s wrath by provoking any new major conflicts with its neighbours. This is why the regime has increasingly turned to terrorist funded proxy wars rather than direct military engagement.

A more independent Egypt could return to a more balanced policy on Palestine, something which would irk both the occupier and Saudi Arabia, but which is necessary if any lasting peace is to be achieved for Palestine.

An Egypt that has been closer to Palestine has been invaded and occupied by Israel in the past. The presence of Russian fighter jets in Egypt could serve to deter such a move if relations between Cairo and Tel Aviv were to deteriorate over Palestine.

2. Saudi Arabia 

The kind of liquid cash flow that Saudi Arabia injects into Egypt will not be easily replaced, but at the same time, with Riyadh becoming ever more assertive over its regional allies, the presence of Russian planes on Egyptian airfields would certainly make Saudi think twice before attempting to meddle in Egypt. If Saudi Arabia wants to complete its ambitious Vision 2030 economic diversification programme, it cannot afford to alienate China or Russia, as the expertise required for such a project can and likely will be provided by the two eastern superpowers. The US by contrast, would rather see Saudi retain its own economic dependence on the Petrodollar. Thus, Russia could help Egypt to leverage its diplomatic weight against an increasingly power-hungry Riyadh.

3. Libya 

Unlike the US, Egypt supports the secular Libyan House of Representatives whose capital is in the city of Tobruk, near the Egyptian border. In recent months, Egypt has coordinated airstrikes on Takfiri terrorists with the Tobruk government and both have pledged to expand mutual commitments.

Russia has also been developing increasingly close ties with the Libyan House of Representatives and its de-facto representative abroad, Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar.

As Egypt is the only country with any legitimate mandate to help secure Libya and reverse its current status as a failed state, a Russian partnership with both Cairo and Tobruk could ultimately provide the only source of salvation for Libya.

4. Syria 

Dating from the beginning of the Syria conflict, Egypt’s policy towards Syria has at best been ambiguous and at its lowest ebb, has been hostile.

Recently, Egypt has become increasingly supportive of stability in Syria and has called for preserving the territorial integrity and political unity of Syria.

It is no coincidence that Egypt’s increasingly reasonable and productive line on Syria has happened as Russian relations with Cairo have grown increasingly warm.

With quiet Russian assistance, Egypt could become a key problem solver for Syria. As a large predominately Sunni Arab state, Egypt’s voice in support of Syria’s unity and political sovereignty could be important, not least because it would counter the Saudi/western narrative that the war in Syria is a sectarian battle rather than the proxy imperialist conflict which it is.

5. Lebanon 

If Saudi Arabia was foolish enough to attempt airstrikes on Lebanon, it would almost certainly require the use of Egyptian air bases. Egypt has already shown reluctance to join Riyadh’s anti-Lebanon would-be jihad. insofar as President Sisi refused to sanction assets of Hezbollah.

An increased Russian presence in Egypt could only help solidified Egypt’s position as a restraint on would-be Saudi aggression against Lebanon.

CONCLUSION: 

As I have previously written, the Middle East is now roughly divided into rival north versus south blocs. At the moment, the two most influential powers in the southern bloc are Saudi Arabia and Egypt. If Egypt, rather than Saudi were to become the most important power in this bloc, it could go a long way in easing tensions as secular Egypt is historically not hostile towards countries like Iraq, Lebanon and Syria.

While Russia is also developing historically new ties with Riyadh, ultimately, Saudi Arabia holds the potential to be an economic leader of the wider southern bloc of the Middle East if (and it is a big if) Vision 2030 is successful, but ultimately, Egypt is far better placed to assert diplomatic leadership of the region, not least because it is a far less ideologically restricted power than Saudi Arabia.

Russia can help Egypt in respect of re-establishing a broader, more open, more balanced and  more dignified position in the region. Russia and Egypt were once highly important allies, in the coming years, this relationship could become increasingly restored.

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Trump Has Gifted “No More Wars” Policy Position To Bernie Sanders (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 148.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou discuss how US President Donald Tump appears to have ceded his popular 2016 ‘no more wars’ campaign message and policy position to Bernie Sanders and any other US 2020 candidate willing to grad onto a non-interventionist approach to the upcoming Democrat primaries.

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“Is Bernie Stealing Trump’s ‘No More Wars’ Issue?” by Patrick J. Buchanan…


The center of gravity of U.S. politics is shifting toward the Trump position of 2016.

“The president has said that he does not want to see this country involved in endless wars… I agree with that,” Bernie Sanders told the Fox News audience at Monday’s town hall meeting in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Then turning and staring straight into the camera, Bernie added:

“Mr. President, tonight you have the opportunity to do something extraordinary: Sign that resolution. Saudi Arabia should not be determining the military or foreign policy of this country.”

Sanders was talking about a War Powers Act resolution that would have ended U.S. involvement in the five-year civil war in Yemen that has created one of the great humanitarian crises of our time, with thousands of dead children amidst an epidemic of cholera and a famine.

Supported by a united Democratic Party on the Hill, and an anti-interventionist faction of the GOP led by Sens. Rand Paul and Mike Lee of Utah, the War Powers resolution had passed both houses of Congress.

But 24 hours after Sanders urged him to sign it, Trump, heeding the hawks in his Cabinet and National Security Council, vetoed S.J.Res.7, calling it a “dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities.”

With sufficient Republican votes in both houses to sustain Trump’s veto, that should be the end of the matter.

It is not: Trump may have just ceded the peace issue in 2020 to the Democrats. If Sanders emerges as the nominee, we will have an election with a Democrat running on the “no-more-wars” theme Trump touted in 2016. And Trump will be left defending the bombing of Yemeni rebels and civilians by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.

Does Trump really want to go into 2020 as a war party president?

Does he want to go into 2020 with Democrats denouncing “Trump’s endless wars” in the Middle East? Because that is where he is headed.

In 2008, John McCain, leading hawk in the Senate, was routed by a left-wing first-term senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, who had won his nomination by defeating the more hawkish Hillary Clinton, who had voted to authorize the war in Iraq.

In 2012, the Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who was far more hawkish than Obama on Russia, lost.

Yet, in 2016, Trump ran as a different kind of Republican, an opponent of the Iraq War and an anti-interventionist who wanted to get along with Russia’s Vladimir Putin and get out of these Middle East wars.

Looking closely at the front-running candidates for the Democratic nomination of 2020 — Joe Biden, Sanders, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker — not one appears to be as hawkish as Trump has become.

Trump pulled us out of the nuclear deal with Iran negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry and reimposed severe sanctions.

He declared Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization, to which Iran has responded by declaring U.S. Central Command a terrorist organization. Ominously, the IRGC and its trained Shiite militias in Iraq are in close proximity to U.S. troops.

Trump has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moved the U.S. Embassy there, closed the consulate that dealt with Palestinian affairs, cut off aid to the Palestinians, recognized Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights seized from Syria in 1967, and gone silent on Bibi Netanyahu’s threat to annex Jewish settlements on the West Bank.

Sanders, however, though he stands by Israel, is supporting a two-state solution and castigating the “right-wing” Netanyahu regime.

Trump has talked of pulling all U.S. troops out of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet the troops are still there.

Though Trump came into office promising to get along with the Russians, he sent Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine and announced a pullout from Ronald Reagan’s 1987 INF treaty that outlawed all land-based intermediate-range nuclear missiles.

When Putin provocatively sent 100 Russian troops to Caracas — ostensibly to repair the S-400 anti-aircraft and anti-missile system that was damaged in recent blackouts — Trump, drawing a red line, ordered the Russians to “get out.”

Biden is expected to announce next week. If the stands he takes on Russia, China, Israel and the Middle East are more hawkish than the rest of the field, he will be challenged by the left wing of his party, and by Sanders, who voted “no” on the Iraq War that Biden supported.

The center of gravity of U.S. politics is shifting toward the Trump position of 2016. And the anti-interventionist wing of the GOP is growing.

And when added to the anti-interventionist and anti-war wing of the Democratic Party on the Hill, together, they are able, as on the Yemen War Powers resolution, to produce a new bipartisan majority.

Prediction: By the primaries of 2020, foreign policy will be front and center, and the Democratic Party will have captured the “no-more-wars” political high ground that Candidate Donald Trump occupied in 2016.

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Over 200 killed, hundreds injured in series of blasts at Sri Lankan hotels & churches

A series of bombings hit churches and hotels across Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, killing more than 200 people.

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Via RT…


A series of eight explosions rocked Catholic churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka as Christians began Easter Sunday celebrations, with over 200 killed and hundreds injured, media reported, citing police.

The blasts started at around 8:45am local time at St. Anthony’s Church in Colombo and St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, a Catholic-majority town outside of the capital. The Zion Church in Batticaloa on the eastern coast was also targeted. At around the same time, the Shangri-La, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury five-star hotels were also hit, police confirmed.

Two more explosions happened later in the day, targeting two more locations in Colombo. All attacks appear to have been coordinated.

At least 207 people were killed, Reuters reported, citing police. More than 450 were injured in the attacks.

Alleged footage of the aftermath, shared on social media, showed chaos and large-scale destruction inside at least one of the churches.

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Mike Pompeo reveals true motto of CIA: ‘We lied, we cheated, we stole’ (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 147.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a look at a Texas A&M University speech, and subsequent interview, with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The former CIA Director admitted, ‘as an aside’ to the question asked, that the Intelligence agency he headed up before being appointed as the top US Diplomat had a motto “we lied, we cheated, we stole”…which, according to Pompeo, contained entire CIA training courses based on ‘lying, cheating and stealing.’

Pompeo finally speaks some truth.

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