Egypt and Russia Sign Military Relations as Muslim Brotherhood Calls for Dialogue with Cairo

Egypt and Russia have agreed to establish a panel to plan and implement defense cooperation. “We agreed today to take steps toward creating a legal basis for our agreements [on military collaboration],” Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said. The agreement could pave the way for the first significant cooperation between Cairo and Moscow in 40 years. In addition, officials told the online edition of the daily Ahram that Egypt and Russia envision annual exercises for all arms of the military. They cited the prospect of counterinsurgency and counter-piracy drills in the Red Sea and Mediterranean Sea.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin held a phone conversation with interim Egyptian President Adly Mansour on Saturday to discuss war-torn Syria. “Both sides praised results of the talks between the defense and foreign ministers of Russia and Egypt held on November 13 and 14 in Cairo,” a Kremlin statement said.

The Russia-Egypt bilateral military talks coincided with a call by Egypt’s National Alliance to Support Legitimacy, a pro-Brotherhood coalition, for a national dialogue as a way out of the country’s political strife, without explicitly demanding the return of deposed Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi. The alliance said in a statement today, which is titled “A Strategic Viewpoint,” that Egypt needs a “serious discussion.” This cannot happen, the alliance stated, however, until “the arrests, bloodshed, and hate speech” ends. The Brotherhood-backed alliance also called for respect for “political plurality.”

On Nov. 8, Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy had announced the next parliamentary elections to be held “between February and March,” to be followed by a Presidential vote in early summer. The elections will replace the leaders appointed after the army ousted elected President Mohamed Morsi in July, amid mass protests against the rule of the Islamist.

Additionally, on Nov. 12, Egypt’s military-backed government has announced the end of a state of emergency that was imposed on Aug. 14 when security forces moved to break up massive protests over the Morsi’s ouster from office. The relaxation of martial law reflects a measure of confidence in the ability of security forces to maintain law and order.

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