Is Egypt sharpening its knife?
The Egyptian authority has claimed that there was no bomb on the destroyed Russian passenger plane which took 224 lives on 31st October 2015 over Egyptian sky in Sinai. According to a western news source, Egypt's Civil Aviation Ministry issued a statement Monday mentioning lead investigator Ayman Al-Muqaddam, who said that his team had found nothing so far that "indicates illegitimate interference or an act of terrorism." (1) This statement completely contradicts the Russian, US and ISIL claims. Both Russia and the ISIL claimed that the Airliner was bombed down by homemade explosives. (2) But now the country that was responsible for the Airliners safety on its sky came up with conclusion that there was no bomb on the plane. These claims and Contraclaims have already triggered many questions about the so called strong relationship between Egypt and Russia; such as, why Egypt is claiming that the Russian Airliner was not bombed down by the terrorists when others claimed so. Does it want to assure its own people, reckless businesspersons and dumb tourists that Egyptian territory is safe from terrorism? But why did it forget the global political reactions and the so-called strong relationship with Russia?
According to the American chamber of commerce in Egypt, the Trade volume between Russia and Egypt has been increased nearly 100% in last three years. And the trade balance has boomed from $3 billion in 2013 to $5.4 billion in 2014, of which $540 million is for Egyptian exports and the rest for Russian exports to Egypt, mainly oil, steel and wheat. The two countries also signed a $3.5 billion arms deal during a visit by Al-Sisi to Russia. Like the Turkey, the major Egyptian export into Russia is Potato. (3)
On the other hand, the US has significant foreign policy towards the Egypt. It is the second largest beneficiary of foreign aid after Israel. The United States is among Egypt's largest trading partners with a volume of trade reaching USD 7.9 billion in 2014, rising by 16.5% from 2013 and representing approximately 2.8% of Egypt's GDP. In 2014, Egypt exported USD 1.4 billion worth of goods to the U.S. The major Egyptian exports to the US were apparel, textile furnishings, fertilizers and other agricultural chemicals and a few amounts of potatoes. (4)
But, Israel- with joined US interests should be considered as the key player of Regional politics in the Middle East. The Israel-Egypt peace treaty paved the way of Israeli influence in the Egyptian state system. Later, Egypt has been becoming an important strategic partner of Israel. A former Israeli defense minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer had once stated that "Egypt is not only our closest friend in the region; the co-operation between us goes beyond the strategic." (5) According to the Israel-Egypt agreement, the U.S. began economic and military aid to Egypt, and political backing for its subsequent governments. From 1948 until 2015, the United States provided Egypt with $76 billion worth of aid. Egypt receives about $1.3 billion annually. (6)
Since Egypt is not running by the rules of US Policy of Democracy in Action, many policy analysts have been considering Egypt an ally of Russia. Some of them assumed that Egypt is now out of the US bloc and searching for a new one. But understanding the relationship between the US, Israel and Egypt and their collective goal in the Middle Eastern future political economy, Egypt is actually camouflaging as an ally of the China-Russia bloc. Egypt will never fully align with the alternative bloc of the west rather Egypt is looking for a soft-power identity in the Middle Eastern regional politics. And to acquire that status of western recognition as a regional power, they will do whatever it takes to make bargaining chips available for negotiations with the west.
So, by claiming that the Russian passenger plane was not bombed by the terrorist, Egypt is showing off their importance in global public opinion making. It has expressed its hidden intention that it may break away from so called strong bilateral relationship with Russia, and opens a path of negotiation for clandestine operation in favor of the west against the Russian interests in the Middle East. Since, the Middle-Eastern turmoil are taking shapes and changing momentum every week, Egypt is now seeking some opportunities for itself for its own regional interests associating with the US-Israeli bloc. Meanwhile, The Turkish action against the Russian jet encouraged few Middle-Eastern countries similar to Egypt to align and work more with the western bloc. By counterclaiming the Russian conclusion over the passenger plane tragedy, Egypt gave a signal to the west that after Turkey, Egypt is immorally ready to take a chance to stab Russia back when stabbing Russia from the back can give an international recognition as a regional power or the Soft power.