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Vladimir Putin appears to be seizing on the Egyptian crisis and the U.S. response to it to expand Russia’s influence in the Arab world’s most populous country.On Thursday afternoon President Barack Obama announced that the U.S. would be cancelling a joint military exercise with the Egyptian Army over its violent crackdown on supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood.Shortly afterwards, Egypt Independent reported that Putin had called an extraordinary session in the Kremlin to put “all Russian military facilities ‘at the Egyptian military's disposal.’" The report, which cited several sources without providing any further details about them, also said that “Putin will discuss Russian arrangements for joint-military exercises with the Egyptian army.”Hours later Egypt Independent took down the report, although Google is still returning searches for it. A number of websites and forums had already republished the article in full before it was removed.The Diplomat could not confirm the veracity of the report, and it’s unclear what to make of Egypt Independent’s decision to take down the article. Egypt Independent is a highly respected, privately owned English-language counterpart to the popular Arabic daily, Al-Masry Al-Youm. (see The Columbia Journalism Review’s recent profile of Egypt Independent here). It established a strong reputation for challenging Hosni Mubarak’s rule long before that became fashionable. It also won praise for its coverage of the 2011 uprising against Mubarak, and faced intense pressure from the Muslim Brotherhood for its unfavorable coverage of former President Mohamed Morsi.At the same time, it has a history of caving to pressure from the Egyptian military, raising the possibility that the article on Russia’s offer of military support might have been removed at the Egyptian military’s request.In any case, Russia was deeply involved in the crisis in Egypt on Thursday. ITAR-TASS, a Russian newswire, reported that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke by phone with his Egyptian counterpart Nabil Fahmy. Another ITAR-TASS story on Thursday said that Egypt’s embassy in Moscow had appealed to Russia to continue to provide support to Cairo during these “extremely hard times… just as it used to do in the past.”A final report from the same outlet detailed how Russia and the United Arab Emirates had come out for a peaceful resolution of Middle East conflicts, including Egypt. A Russian Foreign Ministry source was quoted as saying: “Both sides came out for peaceful, non-violent resolution of problems of countries in the region, respect for sovereignty of states and non-interference in their internal affairs.” The source also told ITAR-TASS that the two sides intended to explore a possible partnership between Russia and the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council. Moscow is at odds with most of the Persian Gulf Arab states over its support for Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria.
Putin just loves rubbing OPapaDoc's nose in his shit. And apparently, OPapaDoc loves having his own nose rubbed in it as well.