Egypt to change position on Russia, says Jamal Khashoggi

Egypt to change position on Russia, says Jamal Khashoggi
A veteran Saudi journalist has said that Egypt's position on Russian air raids in Syria will likely change, as relations between Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Russia seem to be shifting.
3 min read
08 Oct, 2015
Khashoggi was prevented from giving a lecture deemed offensive to the royal family [Getty]
Jamal Khashoggi said on Wednesday that Egypt could soon end its support for Russian military intervention in the four-year-old Syrian civil war.

"The position of our brothers in Egypt towards the Russian aggression in Syria will possibly change, God willing," Khashoggi cryptically tweeted before deleting the tweet, media has reported.

The US-educated journalist penned an op-ed on Saturday strongly criticising Egypt for backing Russia's biggest Middle East intervention in decades.


The position of our brothers in Egypt towards the Russian aggression in Syria will possibly change

- Jamal Khashoggi

"Egypt has been enthusiastic about Russian aggression and its media has not hidden that. Saudi Arabia will not accept that its ally provides unprecedented support to its Russian opponent, " he wrote in the pan-Arab al-Hayat.

Egypt's foreign minister Sameh Shoukry recently said that Russia's intervention in Syria will curtail the spread of terrorism and help deal a fatal blow to the Islamic state group [IS] in the war-torn country.

Russia launched air raids in Syria last week against opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, marking a dramatic escalation in the civil war in which every major country in the region has a stake.

Egyptian-Russian relations

The Egyptian foreign minister's comments are just the latest sign of warming relations between Russia and Egypt.

In a state visit to Russia by President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi in August, the two countries called for a coalition to fight terrorism in the Middle East.

Sisi phoned Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday to discuss quickly reaching political agreements to the crises facing the region, according to al-Masry al-Youm.

Egypt has a long history of warm relations with Russia and the former USSR.

Former Egyptian President Gamal Abd al-Nasser turned to the USSR to fund the Aswan High Dam in 1955 after the World Bank refused, Russian experts in the past have helped build many industrial projects in Egypt.

Fallout with Saudi?

Egypt has long avoided showing support for Assad, a leader whom Saudi Arabia, a key Egyptian ally that has propped up the country economically, believes should be ousted.

But recently there have been signs that Egypt and Saudi Arabia’s historically strong relationship could be faltering.

       Sisi visited Moscow in August [Getty]
On Friday, spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi attended a ceremony organised by the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Qatar, signalling a possible shift in Riyadh's policy toward the Islamist movement and Egypt.

Qaradawi has been sentenced to death in Egypt in a case relating to a mass jail break in 2011.

Egyptian media has recently speculated that $1.5 bn of Saudi aid promised to Egypt last March has been put on hold until the Saudi King visits Egypt - a trip that has yet to be scheduled.

In 2013, Egypt’s former Islamist president Mohammad Morsi was toppled by Sisi, who at the time was army chief, in a military coup following mass demonstrations.

The military government then launched a sweeping crackdown against supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, in which more than 1,400 people have died and thousands jailed.