The downing of the Russian plane in mid-November over the Sinai Peninsula was a targeted hit. It was aimed at two countries – Russia and Egypt.
We can understand Russia; but why Egypt? To better understand the dynamics of Egypt, let’s do a brief background on the country.
Egypt has always given the world insights into the lessons of history should we care to learn from there. It is not surprising as the world moves the the stable, superpower-dominated Cold War era to a more fluid, multipolar strategic environment, that Egypt should be the key to much of what will happen in terms of global security in the coming decades. The country is geopolitically placed at the nexus of trade routes, as well as the hub of several cultures and religions. It is an ancient civilization, as witness the pyramids. It is also the connecting point of three continents ; Asia, Africa, and Europe.
Today, the world has moved from static geostrategic competition to open, freeform geopolitics. Every component of the Suez/Red Sea/Horn of Africa matrix of nation-states is a significant element in the framework, but Egypt has throughout history has been the anchor of the region. To that mix has now been added a highly significant natural gas sector.
Egypt is the biggest strategic prize for world powers in the Middle East. Egypt with its strategic location, stable borders, large population – a highly educated one – , and ancient history, has been the principal power of the Arab world for centuries.
Since the time in 1945 on his return from the fateful Yalta Conferernce, then US President Roosevelt Met Saudi King Ibn Saud and won exclusive rights for US-Rockefeller- group oil companies to Saudi Arabia’s vast oil wealth, the relationship between Saudi and US foreign policy has been one of almost satrapy status for the Saudis. Following the Kissinger-orchestrated 1973 “oil shock” in which OPEC raised its price by some 400%, Washington extracted a pledge from the Saudis that they would insure that OPEC sold its oil only in dollars, thereby ensuring the continued dominance of the US dollar as world reserve currency. In return, Washington agreed to sell US arms including training the Saudi air force.
The US no doubt viewed Egypt as super-strategic in its aim to control the flows of Middle East oil.
Egypt was a semi-province of the Ottoman Empire. When the then-ruler of Egypt built the Suez Canal in 1876, and embarked on an industrial programme, thereafter, he ran into financial difficulties. He sold his 44% stake in the Suez Canal to the British Government, for the sum of $ million pounds. This was financed by the British Rothschilds.
Since that time, the British/French control of Egypt lasted until they were ousted from Egypt, following the 1956 Suez War. This war was a result of the Canal being nationalized by Egypt’s nationalist champion Gamal Nasser. Israel. In conjunction with Britain and France invaded Egypt to take control of the Suez Canal. And were ruthlessly booted out by the US President Eisenhower – who was put into office by the Rockefellers. This gave the US key control of the Suez Canal, through which oil shipments flowed to Europe.
Egypt has the largest population and military power in the Middle East.
Israel has always feared the inherent dynamics and latent power of Egypt. Israel fought four wars with Egypt; 1948, 1956, 1967, and 1973. After the 1973 War, the US mediated a peace deal, which resulted in the Camp David accords of 1978. The result of this was to neutralize the potential threat of Egypt to Israel’s strategic environment. With its western front secure, this then left Israel with a free hand to “sort out” its northern and eastern flanks.
Israel then ignited the Lebanese powder keg, sucked in Syria into the Lebanese quagmire; and from 1978 to 2003, destroyed its military threats from Iraq and Iran.
When the US game-planned its new destabilization scenario for the Middle East aka “The Arab Spring”, Egypt’s ruler, Hosni Mubarak refused to play ball. The US went ahead, pushed Mubarak out, and installed Morsi as the new Egyptian leader. Morsi was the candidate for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
The Muslim Brotherhood was the creation of British Intelligence, in 1926/7. The idea was to use the Muslim brotherhood as a ‘counter-gang’ to the nationalist parties in Egypt, who wanted the British out of Egypt. After 1956, the CIA took over the Muslim Brotherhood from the British.
There is no need to dwell here on the process which led o the installation in mid-2012 and subsequent public rejection in mid-2013 of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, other than that the early refusal of the White House to accept the overthrow of Morsi caused a watershed in US-Egyptian relations.
The SAUDI COUP:
In June 2013, not long after the death of Richard Rockefeller – the cause of the split between the two families, Secretary of State Kerry paid a visit to King Abdullah in Saudi Arabia, and reportedly told him that the US is “not able to guarantee the security of its eastern oilfields anymore”. Calmly, King Abdullah replied, and said, “ we, with the help of God, will manage, and are not in need of your security guarantee.” King Abdullah was deeply anti-American, as related in the Special Report on Saudi Arabia, when from 1999 to 2006, the US was in a covert war with the House of Saud.
Due to a small population, its huge oil reserves, and large country, it was not well guarded. Thus, Pakistan assumed the role of acting as Saudi Arabia’s reserve army. King Abdullah moved with haste and “re-insured” Saudi Arabia’s defence with Egypt; but not an Egypt under Morsi.
On July 3, 2013, swift action by Egypt’s military to arrrst Mohammed Morsi and key leaders of his Muslim Brotherhood organization sent shock waves across the Midle east and the world. It marked a major setback for Washington’s “Arab Spring” strategy of using political Islam to spread chaos from China through Russia, and across the energy-rich Middle East.
On July 17, the newly-sworn in transitional government of Abdullah Sisi took office. The very next day, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE gave Egypt’s government a $12 billion cash infusion. With pledges for another $12 billion to follow. The news was a double slap in the face to Washington who had insisted that Morsi’s government buckle under to harsh IMF conditions as precondition for financial help.
The Saudi decision to take bold action to stop what it saw as a disastrous US Islamic strategy of backing Brotherhood revolutions across the Islamic world has dealt a blow to the mad US strategy of believing it can use the Brotherhood as a political force to control the Islamic world more tightly and use it to destabilize China, Russia, and Central Asia.
The Saudi leadership began to fear that the secretive Brotherhood would one day rise against their rule as well. They never forgave Washington for toppling Saddam Hussein in Iraq that brought a majority shia to power there, nor the US decision to topple close ally Mubarak in Egypt. Saudi Arabia revolted on July 3 by backing and supporting the military coup in Egypt.
Qatar reacts dramatically :
Conspicuously, one Gulf state absent from the aid is Qatar, whose leader, Hamad al Thani had poured more than $5 billion in Egypt since the revolution in 2012, in addition to another $11 billion to Muslim Brotherhood chapters in Syria, Libya and Turkey.
Within minutes of the Saudi-backed coup, Qatar’s leader, Hamed el Thani took note of the implications, and announced his abdication in favor of his son , 33 – year old Tamim, a moderate. The son immediately fired the pro-BrotherhoodPrime Minister Hamad bin Jassim nicknamed ‘HBJ’ ( HBJ was closely tied into the London Rothschild network). The Brotherhood’s spiritual leader, Yusua al Qaradawi, has lived in Doha for decades. Significantly, one of the first acts of the Egyptian military was to close the Al Jazeera studio in Cairo.
This major defeat of the Brotherhood in Egypt sent shock waves in Turkey. Morsi shortly before his fall, called for a Jihad to topple Assad. The new Qatari leadership are now becoming moderate and are recalibrating its foreign policy. In brief, they dare not risk total isolation within the Saudi-dominated Gulf/Arab states.
In the immediate proximity, the new Sisi government has worried Israel’s strategists. They were worried that their plans for Egypt were now in disarray. The two Israeli security agencies Shin Bet and Mossad, were causing chaos in the Sinai , which had become a no-mans land where organized crime, illigal arms trading and terrorist groups were having a free hand.
Israel began to destabilize the Sinai, and a war between terrorists and Egyptian security forces were taking a grim toll.
The Mossad opened a new front on Egypt’s western front, in Libya. On February 16, 2015, the Egyptian Air force(EAF) struck ISIS bases and fighters in Derna, Libya in response to the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christian workers. The Libyan Air Force also struck at sites in Derna, in cooperation with the EAF. In short, Egypt is being destabilized on both fronts by Israel, using its proxy – ISIS- with the aim of weakening Egypt’s military morale and strength.
In the light of this continued threat against its sovereignty, Egypt turned to Russia.
With financial support from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, Egypt purchased arms from France and Russia. From France came fighter jets, various types naval ships. In late September, Egypt bought the two Mistral-class helicopter assault ships from France for a billion euros.
By 2014, Egypt had begun reviving economically and strategically, and promised to transform the Suez-Red Sea strategic marine environment. Sisi transformed Egypt and began to rebuild Egypt’s strategic posture and future.
Egypt now began to build up its economy, starting with the construction of the second Suez Canal. Built and completed within a year by August 2015. This stands to increasing increase the income potential of the Canal, Egypt’s most significant earner of foreign exchange, by expanding the through shipping from 49 to 97 ships a day.
As a result of all the above, Egypt had begun, by 2014, to strategically distance itself from the US. By mid-2015, Egypt had broken its strategic dependence on the US. Sisi accused the US of turning its back to Egyptians; “You left the Egyptians, you turned your back on the Egyptians and they won’t forget that.”
The break with the US was inevitable, given Washington’s decision to withdraw from its earlier military-oriented dominant position in the Middle East. That was in large part the reflection of the American exhaustion with the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Egypt has moved in an incredibly short period of time through the phase of being a component of the US network in the region, through the economic and social disruption of the Morsi period , to a new regional , independent giant. What is certain now is that the US has ended its almost four-decades of strategic influence in Egypt. This may be the most decisive loss for America’s global posture in recent years. This is a significantly new world, already, and Egypt has the resources and geography to be central to it.
From Israel’s point of view, it was time to create some serious damage to Egypt and its economy. On October 31, it brought down a Russian civilian airliner by planting a bomb on board. The result was the death of 224 passengers- no survivors. Two countries were the target of this attack. First was Russia, as it began the destruction of the ISIS “rolling oil-pipeline-on –wheels “, in Syria.
And the second – and prime – target was Egypt, specifically its tourist trade. The majority of foreign tourists to Egypt came from Russia and Britain. Both these countries began pulling out its citizens from Egypt. The result was a huge blow to Egypt’s prestige and its foreign income. It would take some time before it would be restored to earlier levels. Tourism provides for some 7% of Egypts GDP.
Putin was furious with Israel, and its ISIS proxy, saying “We will search for them anywhere they might hide. We will find them in any part of the world and punish them. In a statement on its website, the Russian intelligence agency FSB was offering a $50 milion rewars for “information helping to arrest the criminals “ behind this attack.
Putin began ordering intensified strikes in Syria, especially in Raqqa, the ISIS headquarters in Syria. The war continues.