Egypt was shown international support this week as it inaugurated a large extension of its Suez Canal, which Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi is hoping will power his country’s economic turnaround. Egypt is the most populous country in the Arab world.
The former chief of the military, who led a takeover of the presidency two years ago, but ran last year for president as a civilian, told a group at the inauguration attended by leaders from Russia, France, Africa and Arab nations that Egypt would defeat terrorism that had dogged the building of the project.
Work was not done under normal circumstance and those same circumstances exist, but we are battling them and will eventually defeat them, said Sisi after he signed a declaration allowing ships to cross the Suez Canal new extension.
He said Egypt promised this gift to the rest of the world and it was accomplished in record time. He called it an additional artery for prosperity and to connect civilizations to enhance international trade movement.
The entire project cost $8 billion and was completed in only a year instead of the three originally planned on orders by Sisi, but economists as well as analysts in the shipping industry question if there is enough traffic in the east west trade to meet the ambitious targets of revenue.
The expansion of the canal is the centerpiece of a huge agenda by Sisi to cement his presidential tenure as the person who brought prosperity and stability to Egypt after ousting Mohamed Morsi the Muslim Brotherhood president in 2013, following countrywide mass protests.
This inauguration was used as well to bolster Sisi’s international standing in the presence of Dmitry Medvedev the Prime Minister of Russia, Francois Hollande the President of France, Jordan’s King Abdullah, the emir of Kuwait and Bahrain’s King.
No top level U.S. diplomat from the White House attended the event, but Robert Beecroft the U.S. Ambassador attended with U.S. Representative Darrell Issa a Republican from California.
The region has been beset with turmoil and Cairo is facing increased brazen insurgency over the past two years that is based across the Suez Canal on the Sinai Peninsula, which has killed hundreds of soldiers and police.