A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Déjà vu All Over Again: Is it 1955-1956 Yet?

I'm about to disappear for the MEI Annual Conference
through tomorrow, but may have a post or two to occupy you if I can. But first, I wanted to comment on the visit today of a senior Russian delegation to Egypt (the Foreign and Defense Ministers) to discuss new aid. The move is seen as a direct response to the growing coolness between the US and Egypt and the recent suspension of parts of the US aid package.

Déjà vu, anyone? In 1955, after an Israeli raid on Egyptian-occupied Gaza, Gamal Abdel Nasser asked the West to sell him arms and was offered conditions he couldn't accept. He turned to Czechoslovakia instead. In retaliation for this and other tilts towards the East Bloc (recognizing mainland China, attending the Bandung Conference), first Britain and then the US withdrew their previously offered aid for the building of the Aswan High Dam. In 1956, the Soviet Union stepped in and offered aid for the dam. Then Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal . . .
Nasser & Khrushchev Divert the Nile Waters

It's not quite the same; the Cold War is over and the zero-sum bipolar perceptions of those days have been replaced by a multipolar world. But then, given all the Sisi-is-the-new-Nasser hype, there are some parallels.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Every giant ... presupposes a dwarf, every genius a hidebound philistine....

The first are too great for this world, and so they are thrown out.

But the latter strike root in it and remain....

Caesar the hero leaves behind him the play-acting Octavianus, Emperor Napoleon the bourgeois king Louis Philippe..

And one might add

After the giant Nasser the dwarf Sissy.