Saturday, February 14, 2015

Robert Fisk thinks Russia's Putin and Egypt's Al-Sisi can have a beautiful relationship

Robert Fisk reports on the growing cooperating between Vladimir Putin's Russia and Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's Egypt in A meeting of minds in Cairo: Billion-dollar arms deal on table as Putin and Abdel Fattah al-Sisi seek closer trade links and alliance against 'terror' The Independent 02/09/2015:

After crushing Muslim fighters in Chechnya, Mr Putin supports Bashar al-Assad’s ferocious war against the "Islamic State" in Syria and will be more than happy to put his arm around the chubby Egyptian whose courts have been sentencing Muslim Brotherhood members to the scaffold by the hundred. Mr Sisi has met Mr Putin before, in Moscow, and a Russian leader known for his cynicism can only enjoy meeting a military autocrat who was elected president after staging a successful coup d’etat against a previously elected president. Even the old Soviet Union could never quite achieve this. ...

The beauty of it all is that both leaders want the same thing – to emerge with a new ally after suffering the slings and arrows of Western criticism for their bloody behaviour. The Egyptian president oversaw the shooting massacre of hundreds of Brotherhood supporters in 2013. The Russian president oversaw the bloody occupation of parts of eastern Ukraine a year later. They will have much to talk about.
This is one of many cynical but pragmatic alliances Russia has made and is making. It's a nuclear power that can thrown its weight around in various places.

The United States and Russia are unofficial but de facto allies in Syria at the moment, with the US discreetly cooperating with Syria and its President Bashar al-Assad in fighting common enemies, ISIS and "Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda affiliate." (Patrick Cockburn, War with Isis: Syria's President Assad is overplaying a weak hand – he needs the West to keep militants from Damascus The Independent 02/10/2015)

Fisk notes in closing:

Russia and America have always suffered an addiction to obedient military rulers; and Mr Putin, who only retired from the KGB with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel – against Mr Sisi’s Field Marshal status – understands all too well how a “deep state” works. Patriotism, nationalism and corruption are a potent blood group for autocratic survival in the Arab world.

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