An important event has taken place in the Near East policy: the US Defense Minister Chuck Hagel declared about reduction of military aid to Egypt. Washington suspends supplies of Apache helicopters to Cairo, as well as missile systems and spare parts for tanks. Individual military cooperation programs keep on operating, but the trend of taking-down of American-Egyptian partnership is evident.
Washington’s refusal of the partnership with Egyptian military forces was called not by authoritarian trends in Egypt. The United States has cooperated many times with authoritarian regimes provided it corresponded its interests. It’s another thing. The Administration of Barack Obama does not consider the current Government of Egypt to be stable. Its inability to eliminate (or at least suppress rapidly) protest moods within two and a half month doubts the prospects of Egyptian regime. The White House is observing the way the situation in Egypt shall develop, without seeing at the moment of a reliable recipient for its military aid.
American experts work out three scenarios of the situation development in this country. The first one – the military regime shall attempt to suppress protest demonstrations violently, which shall induce mass disturbances. The second one – radical Muslim forces shall gradually gain control over Egypt’s provinces, creating there enclaves with their armed formations not subordinate to Cairo. The third one – Egypt’s regime shall extends its partnership with the monarchies of the Persian Gulf, which shall push Cairo to the compromise with the Islamic movements. Each of these scenarios grounds on further destabilization in Egypt. Washington has yet no clear plan of actions in each of these situations.
But the ending of American-Egyptian partnership shall inevitably force other countries to monitor the situation in this country. Israel is concerned about the prospects of islamization of Sinai. The EU countries are concerned about destabilization of the Mediterranean region and especially the prospect of the Suez Canal’s security.
First of all, the Suez Canal is the shortest trade way between the Mediterranean and Red Seas. If it is blocked, the EU countries will have to use a longer way around Africa with a intermediate stop in Capetown.
Secondly, the Suez Canal is one of the key transport arteries, through which supplies of hydrocarbons of the Persian Gulf flow to the EU-states. Using the alternative way around Africa, these terms of delivery of energy carriers to Europe shall extend for 15 days.
Thirdly, important for the EU countries cargo turnover is performed through the Suez Canal. (In particular, according to the Head of the Canal’s Administration Akhmad Fadel, in 2011 17 799 ships went through it.)
Fourthly blocking of the Suez Canal shall make unprofitable the use of ports of Mediterranean EU states. Greece, Italy and Spain may have serious troubles due to the shortage of incomes to the budgets.
Within 2013 the role of the Suez factor in the EU policy has risen. Yet in March disturbances in Port-Said city took place during which those participants of demonstrations tried to cut-off the Suez Canal. On May 1st Egypt’s authorities, trying to deal with the lack of funds in the treasury, increased the cost of passing through the Canal for 5% for tankers. The coup of July 3rd has risen the world prices for a barrel of the North Sea Brent to 104 USD; the August futures for the light oil WTI have grew to 101.84 USD per barrel. One of the reasons was the concerns about the Suez Canal blocking.
The EU states have the experience of intervention to control the Suez Canal. In 1956 Great Britain, France and Israel arranged the “triple intervention” to restore control over the Suez Canal. They didn’t manage to gain control over the Suez due to violent counteraction of the USSR and mild countermeasures of the USA.
Great Britain and France now are noticeable in the region. Yet in 2010 they formed the system of privileged partnership in military-political sphere. Franco-British tandem arranged military intervention to Libya, actively fought with the UNIO SC for the adoption of a hard resolution on Syria. Under pressure of Paris and London in summer 2013 the European Union has expressed its concern about the situation in Egypt several times. In case of acute destabilization in Egypt London and Paris can become really aware of the issue of non-admission of the Suez Canal blocking. The policy of Britain and France become even more aggressive. By this they try to find in the region reliable and, which is very important, financially-successful Arab partners. In particular, it is proved by intensive contracts between Paris and Doha, London and Riyadh.
World media monitoring