GRM 2010 GRM 2011

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Rebalancing?Effects of Russian/Egyptian Rapprochement on Egypt\'s Relations with the Gulf
Paper Proposal Text :
Effects of Russian/Egyptian Rapprochement on Egypt\'s Relations with the Gulf
Reham Mokbel
A political analyst at Regional Centre for Strategic Studies in Cairo
Workshop:Egypt and the GCC: Renewing an Alliance amidst Shifting Policy Pressures - See more at:

Following the 30th June Revolution, which took place on June 30th 2013, most Western countries took a critical stance towards the Egyptian army ousting of former president Mohamed Mursi. In defense of the political legitimacy of the revolution, Egypt announced that these countries had abandoned it in its war on terrorism. Around the same time, Russia and Gulf countries became the main supporters of Egypt consequently distancing Cairo from the West and drawing it closer to Russia. As U.S-Egyptian relations declined sharply after 3th July 2013 due to its support of Muslim Brotherhood and its threat to cut off aid, Russian-Egyptian relations improved drastically following the revolution.
In November 2013, an Egyptian delegation visited Moscow followed by a visit of Egyptian president Sisi and recently Putin\'s visit to Egypt (February9 2015) improving trade relations (raising trade to $4.6 billion between January and December 2014). Russia is the world\'s fourth-largest wheat producer, and Egypt is its second-largest buyer and the world’s second largest weapons exporter with 26% of total world sales amounting for$15 billion dollars in 2012.
This paper argues that Gulf benefits from the Egyptian-Russian Rapprochement due to the instability in Iraq and Syria and the fear that the region will turn into a “Taliban” haven which constitutes a joint nightmare for both parties. Russia and the Gulf share a mutual interest in struggle against Islamist extremists as the United States appear to be in an era of Retrenchment. Following the 2013 IISS Manama Dialogue, a Gulf leader affirmed that “the Russians have proved they are reliable friends\". On the other side, Moscow needs \" regional diplomacy\" based upon ameliorating their disagreements with the Gulf states that continue to adopt varying positions toward many issues including, settling the Syrian conflict and coordinating with other regional powers such as Egypt.
Accordingly, Egypt provides Russia with promising opportunities to reinforce its regional presence through the partnership framework between the two parties, political, economic and military. The question which the paper aims to raise is: Does the Gulf view Russia as an external power? This paper argues that there is \"a tactical\" alliance between Russia and Gulf in certain key-issues such as combating terrorism in the region as well as their mutual attempt to strengthen economic relations between them. This direction repose questions regarding the type of relationship between the two countries and its implications on the Gulf. It also raises questions regarding how Gulf countries and the main strategic partners to Egypt, especially after the revolution, would affect the relations among the three parties. In order to formulate my argument, the paper will be divided into three sections, an introduction and a conclusion.
The First section, will analyze the history of the relations between two countries and how this historical framework presently affects Egypt and Gulf relations.
Historically, Egyptian foreign policy turned away from the Western sphere, and looked toward the Soviet camp following President Gamal Abdel Nasser\'s visit in Russia in May 1954. Nasser’s era was marked by strong ties with Soviet Union from military dependency to infrastructure projects, such as the Aswan High Dam.
The second section focuses on Egypt\'s foreign policy that drew closer to the East\', toward Russia deepening the mutual benefits between both countries. This decisive shift in foreign policy became an opportunity for Egypt to diversify its foreign relations and affirm its national independence thus adopting foreign policies that protect its vital interests, combating terrorism through reinforcing security and intelligence cooperation. It also allowed Egypt to build International support with regards to Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam and to win a seat in Security Council.
On such grounds, Egypt and Russia share economic ties in various fields. If the United States turns towards Asia, it would leave behind a vacuum that Russia may seek to fill as Gulf States have become skeptical about Washington’s intentions following the signing of its historic deal with Iran. Meanwhile, there are obstacles ahead as Russia is in a state of economic turbulence in the present as a result of the sanctions and the fall in oil prices.
Lastly, the third section outlines the Gulf stances that harbors both welcoming signals and doubts towards Russia as well as the possible implications of renewed Russian-Egyptian relations. The paper articulates that without the strong Gulf financial support, Egypt would be clearly unable to pay for Russian weapons including air defense systems. However, It remains unclear what kind of role Russia seeks to play in the region since it is perceived as key-player that uses the \"wild card\" in the regional crisis such as the prevention of military intervention in Syria yet that the main problems of the region can be solved without the participation of Russia.