Egypt’s military chief is making a rare trip to Moscow on Wednesday, the first since he led a military-backed ouster of the country’s president last summer.
Field Marshall Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, the Egyptian military chief and likely presidential candidate, will visit the Russian capital with Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy. The trip to Moscow follows a visit by a top level Russian delegation to Egypt in November.
Throughout the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union tussled for influence in the Middle East, largely by supporting strongman leaders in proxy countries. For three decades, the U.S. supported the dictatorial regime of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, who stepped down in 2011 after weeks of demonstrations during the Arab Spring.
Egypt held its first democratic election in the summer of 2012, where Islamist Mohammed Morsi emerged victorious. A year later, the Egyptian military ousted Morsi, which has led to a souring of U.S-Egyptian relations. Moscow is understood to be trying to expand its influence in the Arab World’s largest country.
Al-Sisi is widely expected to run for president this spring. Last month, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces “unanimously delegated” al-Sisi to run for president in elections that are expected to be held in April.