WASHINGTON – Vladimir Putin’s visit to Egypt marks a low point in U.S.-Egyptian relations, weakening an alliance formed 35 years ago, when President Carter negotiated the Camp David Accords with Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, contends a retired Army general.
Retired Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely, a founding member of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi, told WND the Russians filled a void after the Obama administration cut off military supplies and equipment to Egypt in response to the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood-backed president, Mohamed Morsi, which set the stage for Gen. Abdel-Fatal al-Sisi to become president.
Vallely noted that in October 2013, after the Obama administration suspended military aid to Egypt, Sisi turned to Russia. The move was followed by Putin’s first visit to Egypt on Feb. 12-13, 2014, which resulted in Cairo’s decision to purchase some $2 billion of weapons from Russia.
Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney, another founding member of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi, concurred.
“It is amazing how fast the Obama administration has turned some of our most loyal allies against us. Egypt was the keystone of our Mideast Policy for 40 years,” McInerney said.
Egypt is “vital,” he said, “because it controls the Suez Canal, plus airspace to enter and exit the Middle East as well as the crucial partner in the Israeli Peace Treaty, and we have now forced the Egyptians to look to Russia for support. How could we let this happen?”
Clare Lopez, senior vice president for research and analysis at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, warned Putin is a “shrewd operator who, like his predecessors, prioritizes a Russian presence in the Middle East.”
“We must know that wherever the Kremlin is able to establish a foothold will be used to the detriment of our friend and partner, Israel, to perpetuate historical KGB relationships with Islamic terror operatives, and to oppose U.S. strategic interests in the region,” said Lopez, a former CIA officer and another current member of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi.
“Squandering our decades-long partnership with Egypt is dangerous, foolish and entirely unnecessary,” she said.
The Washington Institute for Near East Politics reported that between 1979 and Obama’s decision to suspend military aid to Egypt last October, the U.S. provided Egypt with nearly $70 billion in funding. More than half went to purchase American-made equipment. The Washington Institute further reported a $1.3 billion per year U.S. security-assistance grant accounting for 80 percent of Egypt’s military’s annual procurement budget.
“Sisi had no choice but to fill the void left by the Obama administration’s decision with the military aid that Russia was willing to provide,” Vallely said.
Vallely said that since declaring the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization in December 2013, Sisi has been fighting a threat to the Suez Canal, combating ISIS in the Sinai and worrying about ISIS now aligning with the al-Qaida-affiliated militia and the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood in Libya on Egypt’s western border.
Meanwhile, al-Qaida-affiliated terrorists are gaining strength in Nigeria and Somalia to the south of Egypt.
WND reported an interim report by the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi concluded the Obama administration “switched sides” in the war on terror in Libya in 2011 when the White House and State Department under Hillary Clinton chose to arm al-Qaida-affiliated militia and the Libyan branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in their effort to oust Muammar Gadhafi by force.
“Russia has stepped up to provide the arms Egypt needs to defend itself against the radical Islamic terrorists al-Sisi faces on all sides,” Vallely said.
He was referring to a report that Saudi Arabia has agreed to finance the weapons Egypt purchases from Russia.
Valley said the Obama administration has managed to reverse some nearly 35 years of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, with Egypt now returning to Russia. Egypt had a close relationship with the Soviet Union had in era of President Gamal Abdel Nasser, from 1956 to 1970.
“Egypt has a real concern about security, and the United States is not there to help as we should be helping,” Vallely said.
“This is typical of the changes the Obama administration has made in U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East,” he said.
“With the Obama administration supporting the al-Qaida militia in Libya and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, it’s a great illustration how an errant foreign policy undertaken by the U.S. State Department and a White House national security team has managed to drag the United States down lower and lower in credibility throughout the Middle East.”