On Thursday, the United States warned that choosing the next Egyptian president is not Russian President Vladimir Putin’s call after Putin backed Egyptian Defence Minister Field Marshal Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s bid to for presidency.
Washington also stressed that a potential rapprochement between Cairo and Moscow will not hurt the “historic” relations between Egypt and the United States, which have witnessed a chill over the past few months.
U.S State Department spokeswoman, Marie Harf, said “Of course we don’t endorse a candidate and don’t think it’s, quite frankly, up to the United States or to Mr Putin to decide who should govern Egypt; it’s up to the Egyptian people to decide”.
The spokeswoman was responding to a question on the position of the U.S. president towards Russian President’s public announcement backing the strongman in Egypt, Field Marshal Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, who is visiting Moscow.
In her daily press conference, Harf stressed, “It’s not up to us to endorse a candidate, and really not up to anyone else outside of Egypt to either”.
In remarks broadcast on Russian television, Putin spoke with Sisi about his presidential ambitions, saying “I know that you have made a decision to run for president; that’s a very responsible decision: to undertake such a mission for the fate of the Egyptian people. On my own part, and on behalf of the Russian people, I wish you success.”
Egyptian Defence Minister, Field Marshal Al-Sisi, who is hugely popular in Egypt, has not yet officially announced his candidacy for the presidency, but he did not hide his intentions to do so since the army deposed the Islamist President Mohamed Morsi last July.
Marshal Al-Sisi Moscow has been visiting Moscow since Wednesday, accompanied by Egyptian Foreign Minister, Nabil Filmy. The two ministers met with their Russian counterparts, Sergei Shogun and Sergei Lvov on Thursday, to improve the cooperation between the two countries, especially in the military field.
Russia, which is considered one of the largest weapons exporters in the world, hopes to enhance its military cooperation with Egypt, which was its ally at the time of the Soviet Union, especially in light of the chill in Cairo and Washington’s relationship.
The United States granted Egypt billions of dollars in aid since the signed in 1979 a peace agreement with Israel, as a way to ensure Egypt adheres to the treaty, secure its own access through the Suez Canal, and gain the support of the greatest Arab county, in terms of population, amid the “war on terror”.
But after months of tension, in October, Washington ultimately froze a portion of its military aid to Cairo in October as punishment for Egypt’s bloody crackdown on Morsi supporters.
However, the U.S. State Department also denied that growing ties between Moscow and Cairo would hurt Washington’s “long-standing, strong, historical relationship with Egypt.”
It also stressed that, “Egypt is free to pursue relationships with other countries. It doesn’t impact our shared interests,” adding that the United States brings “unique capabilities to bring to bear militarily and economically” for Cairo.