When Russia won the bid to host the most prestigious tournament in world football not everybody was impressed. The hostility between some western nations especially the US and Russia is prevalent. The US won’t get a chance to play against their great political rivals as they did not qualify for the FIFA World Cup 2018.
So, let’s look at the other countries that are facing off against Russia. Uruguay are on good terms with all of their opponents in Group A. They have a friendship agreement with Egypt and host over 7000 Russians. But the other three countries have been woven together over recent centuries Egypt and Russia’s interactions go back to the 16th century when Russian Czar Ivan the Terrible sent aid to monasteries in Egypt at the request of the Coptic Church of Alexandria.
A few centuries later in 1811 Egypt and Saudi first locked horns. This wasn’t the modern Saudi state. It was an earlier attempt called the Emirate of Diriyah. The Egyptians, led by Ibrahim Pasha won the Wahhabi War and the Saudis had to wait 114 years for an established and recognized state. The king of Saudi Arabia. All through his career he has been a staunch friend of Britain even when we seemed to be losing the Battle of Egypt in this war.
In the 1950s and 60s
Egypt warmed up to Russia when the US increased its support for Israel and the World Bank refused to fund a dam in southern Egypt. Reportedly at the request of the US. Russian military advisors and equipment poured into Egypt but in the 70s Russian personnel were expelled by President Anwar Sadat arguing Moscow wasn’t doing enough to help Egypt match Israel militarily.
The Saudis played a role in their removal and subsequently bought the Egyptians French Mirage fighter jets to reduce their reliance on Soviet Military tech. The US brokered Egypt-Israel Peace Accords swayed Egypt back into the US, hands. Coupled with $1.3bn in foreign aid annually their relationship was only growing stronger. The peace deal angered the Saudis who cut ties with Egypt in 1979 only to restore them in 1987. It is a formality which has its signification. It has a symbolic value.
More recently in 2012
Saudi Arabia closed its embassy in Cairo again as protests flared in support of Ahmed Al-Gizawy A lawyer who reportedly filed a lawsuit against Saudi king Abdullah on behalf of Egyptians detained without charge in Saudi prisons.
Fearing the loss of aid Egyptian politicians tried hard to rekindle ties but only after the 2013 coup did the aid continue. The Obama administration criticized the ousting of Egypt’s first democratically elected president Mohamed Morsi. This angered both Egypt’s new leaders and Saudi as they publicly backed the coup and subsequent rule. Sisi, who lead the coup became president the following year and was quick to turn to Russia for military equipment.
The bombing of a Russia passenger airline over the Sinai Peninsula soured relations between the two nations. Vladimir Putin suspended all flights to Egypt for two years. Only recently restarting flights to Cairo.
Sisi,s decision to transfer two Egyptian islands to Saudi Arabia was highly controversial in Egypt. In return Egypt accepted a $25bn aid deal. Though their relationship is now on the rocks. Partly due to Egypt’s lack of involvement in the Saudi-led bombing of Yemen and their differing positions on the Syrian conflict. Russia and Saudi Arabia have historically been at odds over middle eastern wars and political decisions but their relationship now seems to be on the rise.
In October 2017,
King Salman was the first ever Saudi monarch to visit Moscow. He pledged to invest $10bn into Russia over the next ten years and also agreed to buy Russia’s S-400 missile defense system. Both countries are now looking into a 10-20-year oil alliance to regulate crude prices and Egypt has agreed, in principle to let Russian warplanes use their air space and bases.It would be Russia’s deepest presence in Egypt since 1973.
“They say football brings people together more than anything else. So, let’s see if games between the three nations at the World Cup does the trick.”
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