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TEL AVIV – Russia has been exerting pressure on Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi to cancel weapons deals with the U.S. and instead sign with Moscow at cheaper prices, according to an informed Egyptian security official.
The official said Russia is also attempting to exert its influence at the expense of the U.S. throughout the Middle East, North Africa and Western Asia, including in Turkey.
Currently, Russia is urging Egypt to sign a deal for the creation of a 155-mm guided shell for U.S.-provided M-109 howitzers, which are being used on tanks sold to the Egyptian army by the U.S.
Moscow officials told Egyptian leaders that Russia is interested in replacing the U.S. as the Middle Eastern country’s main weapons dealer, the Egyptian official said.
Similar messages were sent to Turkey, Yemen, Algeria, Tunisia and other countries, the official said.
“Russia is trying to more heavily infiltrate the Middle East and other countries to check against the United States,” said the official.
Already in Turkey, Russia offered the joint development of a surface-to-air missile based on the advanced Russian S-300V Antey-2500 system in addition to the sale of other missile and artillery systems at better prices than those offered by the U.S. President Obama has worked to cultivate a close relationship with Turkey.
Currently, Russia is a main backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Syria is facing an insurgency led by rebels who are reportedly being armed with Turkish and Arab money.
The Obama administration is reportedly leading in the weapons coordination efforts to the rebels while Russia has been supplying vast quantities of arms to Assad.
The U.S. arming efforts is considered controversial since the rebels fighting in Syria consist in large part of jihadists, including al-Qaida organizations.