Egypt seeking advanced Russian S-300 air defense missiles

The Egyptian government is reportedly seeking to purchase advanced S-300 mobile air-defense missile systems from Russia along with new jets and anti- tanks weapons.

The Jerusalem Post cites a Washington Institute for Near East Policy report entitled "Egypt arms deal with Russia: Potential Strategic Costs" written by David Schenker and Eric Trager.

The report says that this deal comes in spite of the fact that Egypt has upheld a peace deal with Israel that demilitarized the Sinai Peninsula in 1979. The transfer of such weaponry "would degrade Israel's qualitative military edge."

The report added that,
"To be sure, the strategic cooperation and level of trust between Israel and Egypt, particularly on Sinai has never been better. But changing the status quo could undermine the trust and perhaps even the Camp David peace treaty."

In its conclusion the report contends that,
"Despite reassurances from Egyptian officials, the Russian weapons deal -- if concluded -- portends a gradual reduction in Washington's ability to control the quality and quantity of weapons that Cairo receives, and to maintain Israel's qualitative military edge in the region."

Iran and Syria have sought such sophisticated S-300 missile units from Russia in the past.

As the report quite rightfully points out, this recent $2 billion arms deal which Egypt struck with Russia is financed by Saudi Arabia. The reason Egypt is delving into arms agreements with Russia is the tacit pressure Washington has given the authorities in Cairo following its July 3 2013 coup against the Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi.

The U.S has partially frozen weapons and aid transfers as a result of the widespread crackdown on the opposition in Egypt that followed the events of July 3. Given the fact that Saudi Arabia is funding this arms deal between Cairo and Moscow Washington will find it much harder to amend Cairo's behavior through suspending deliveries of military technology.

As Ahram Online recently reported such a deal indeed indicates a shifting on Cairo's part of regional alliances given its distrust of Washington and its motives.

Field Marshal abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt has said that through such an arms deal they are simply seeking "Moscow's help in diversifying the country's sources of military procurement."

Amongst arms being sold by the Russians are Russian-made Mi-17 and Mi-35 helicopters that will likely see action in the Sinai against various Islamist militants they are engaged against in that region.

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