- Egypt has consistently aligned with Russia after a rift with the Obama administration
- President El-Sisi realizes he needs U.S. economic aid and counterinsurgency support
- But reconciliation with Washington could require Egypt to defer to Saudi Arabia
At the heart of the Middle East is a surprising absence. Egypt, the most populous country in the Arab world, with the largest army and 6,000 years of glorious history, is no longer a leader. It exerts virtually no influence on the changing face of the region.
The country is just starting to emerge from a catastrophic economic downturn and continues to face dire threats to its security from developments that followed the Arab Spring of 2011. It has taken no part in the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen that will determine the new map of the Middle East. Cairo has even distanced itself from its traditional involvement in the Palestinian issue, after Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s offer to host a meeting with the Israeli prime minister was rejected by Abu Mazen, the president of the Palestinian National Authority.