The United States' suspension of part of its military aid to Egypt has been presented as a sanction designed to encourage the Egyptian regime to democratize. But it is also another step in Washington’s movement toward a strategic withdrawal, allowing it to distance itself from the Middle East and focus even more on the Pacific region, on account of Asia’s economic rise.
Vladimir Putin, who just recently took such great advantage of this American withdrawal to position himself on the side of his ally Bashar Assad in Syria, must be warming his hands as he dreams of seeing Egypt return to Moscow’s orbit — the same way it was during the Cold War until Nasser’s death in 1970, followed by Anwar Sadat taking a pro-Western direction.
We obviously have not arrived at a shift in alliances on the part of Egypt, but America’s measure does confirm the extent of America's loss of influence over the Near East.
Whatever we may think of the tactics used in Cairo to overcome the Muslim Brotherhood, the U.S. should support the Egyptian regime if it wants to defend its absolute priority within the region: upholding the 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty.
Suspending military aid could therefore just be a pure concession on the part of Congress. It nevertheless confirms that foreign policy realism has lost its respectability in Washington (and in Paris), leading to [a move toward] counterproductive human rights-ism.
In fact, it is unlikely that suspending the disbursement of American weapons will have a convincing effect on Cairo’s politics. The Egyptian military’s rhetoric is just as anti-American, if not more, than that of the Muslim Brotherhood when it was in power.
Without going so far as wooing the Russians, who would be more than happy to be called upon to facilitate their return to the Mediterranean, Egypt is not short of partners willing to make up for America’s withdrawal. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait have already vowed to contribute $12 billion dollars of aid to compensate for the aid that Qatar had offered to support the Muslim Brotherhood regime at arm’s length.
The case for providing heavy American weapons to Egypt is related to Turkey’s decision to address China so it can provide the latter with a anti-aerial defense system. Even if this provision, which is very controversial given that it concerns a NATO member country, is far from being achieved, it shows that the West is losing its strategic monopoly within the region.