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Neither the Russians nor the Americans Will Save Us

The Russians do more harm than good. This was the viewpoint of the late President Anwar Sadat. Those who lived through the 1970s remember his famous speech in which he claimed to have expelled 15,000 Soviet experts from Egypt before the 1973 war because he wanted the battle to be Egypt’s battle. Sadat, in contrast to President Gamal Abdel Nasser, looked suspiciously at the Soviets. In fact, the Russians played a very dangerous role in many of the ordeals that Egypt went through during the Nasser era. They were the ones who advised Nasser to rush and intervene in the Yemeni quagmire. The Russians also had a dangerous role in the 1967 setback. Many of the decisions taken by Nasser, which resulted in the outbreak of the war, were based on incorrect information he received from the Soviets that Israel was amassing its forces on its borders with Syria. This information was proved to be false several times. Perhaps the most dangerous advice the Soviets gave Nasser was their insistence that Egypt should wait to initiate an attack during the June 1967 war. Nasser knew that an Israeli strike would take place during the first days of June and yet he listened to the Soviet view that absorbing the first strike and only then retaliating against Israel would be preferable for Egypt. I don’t need to remind you of the price that Egypt paid as a result of such dishonest Soviet advice. The event that prompts me to recall this unfortunate Soviet role is the current Russian position surrounding the Renaissance Dam, which threatens Egypt and Sudan. The Russian mission to the UN has been speaking unconvincingly about this matter and limiting Egypt’s freedom to act against Ethiopia. In my view, the Russian position isn’t surprising. Russia has billions of dollars of investments in Africa and is simply interested in preserving its own national interests. The Renaissance Dam problem is our problem. And we must not wait to receive permission from any international player, above all from Russia, to secure our rights to the Nile waters. No one will protect our sovereignty and no one will fight on our behalf. The Nile problem affects neither Russia nor America, so expecting the two countries to have Egypt’s best interests in mind is an absurd premise. The solution to the situation is in our hands. Everyone agrees that Egypt has long addressed this situation with patience. The time has come to act against Ethiopia and to protect our national interest and sovereignty. –Mahmoud Khalil (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)