Overview: The relations between Egypt and North Korea

N. Korean leader Kim Jong Un at parliament session
N. Korean leader Kim Jong Un at parliament session, photo courtesy: freebeacon.com

Following the 72nd UN general assembly session more countries started to take actions in the the korean conflict by cutting their ties to the north Korean regime, in the midlle east however, a question remains of whether Egypt should or should not take such actions, the historical background and current status might provide for the answer.

1910’s to 2010’s:

In 1910, Korea was annexed by the Empire of Japan. After the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II, in 1945, Korea was divided into two zones, with the north occupied by the Soviets and the south by the Americans. Negotiations on reunification failed, and in 1948, separate governments were formed: the socialist Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the north, and the capitalist Republic of Korea in the south. An invasion initiated by North Korea led to the Korean War (1950–1953). The Korean Armistice Agreement brought about a ceasefire, but no peace treaty was signed.

The real historical cordial relations were in 1952 both countries were  membership in the non-aligned movement (NAM) and shared solidarity with the Soviet Union during the 1950s and 1960s.

When the president Abdelnasser nationalized Suez canal, North Korea’s leader Kim Il-sung authorized the donation of a small but symbolic sum of financial assistance to Egypt, to demonstrate his approval of Nasser’s anti-imperial defiance.

North Korean policymakers provided diplomatic support for Egypt’s efforts to push British troops out of South Yemen and fiercely condemned Israeli conduct during the 1967 Six-Day War.

In 1973, during the Yom Kippur War, the Israeli Air force (IAF) found itself facing an Arab Air Forces coalition which was composed not only by Egyptian and Syrian fighter squadrons, but also by units from Algeria, Iraq, Libya and 30 North Korean pilot, that deployed a MiG-21 squadron to Bir Arida to protect Egypt’s south.

In 1994, there were rumors about the fleeing of the North Korean ambassador to U.S carrying with him classified documents exposing that Egypt is seeking to obtain missiles with an effective range of 1000 k.m.

Cairo is flourishing missile partnership with North Korea began to worry U.S. officials. After years of help from Pyongyang, Cairo can now produce its own version of the Soviet Scud-B missile, which can deliver nuclear or chemical warheads up to 300 kilometers. It is also developing a more advanced Scud-C version that could threaten all of Israel and target Arab cities in Libya, Syria and Sudan.

The establishment of person-to-person contacts between the Egyptian and North Korean governments, consolidated by Mubarak’s four visits to Pyongyang from 1983-1990, laid the foundation for subsequent Egyptian investments in the North Korean economy and an evidence on that is investment of the famous business man Nagib Sawiras and establishing the 3G mobile phones network Koryolink in 2008

In 2015, a United Nations panel said that Egypt’s Port Said was being used by North Korean front companies and shipping agents engaged in weapons smuggling.

post 72nd  session relations:

“U.S slaps Egypt for its human rights record and its ties with North Korea” this was a headline in the Newyork times in which The Trump administration on Tuesday denied Egypt $96 million in aid and delayed $195 million in military funding because of concerns over Egypt’s human rights record and its cozy relationship with North Korea.

Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson’s top priority has been to increase North Korea’s economic and diplomatic isolation, and he has asked foreign leaders in almost every meeting that they cut ties with Pyongyang.

recently that year,Egypt allegedly Ordered 30,000 Rockets From North Korea in $23M Deal Foiled by U.S.

Egyptian business executives ordered $23 million worth of rockets from North Korea for the Egyptian army in a complex and illicit arrangement that was thwarted by U.S. intelligence services, The Washington Post reported on Monday.

Egypt’s purchase was foiled when U.S. intelligence officials spotted a rusty freighter flying Cambodian colors chugging toward the Suez Canal. A message was then transmitted from Washington to Cairo, warning about the ship’s North Korean origin and crew, and the fact that its mysterious cargo was hidden by bulky tarps.

recently the Egyptian minster of defense, on a visit to Seoul, announced that his country has cut military ties with North Korea, according to a report by South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.

There was no immediate confirmation from the Egyptian government on the agency’s report, but Cairo has come under mounting pressure in recent weeks to sever ties with North Korea as the United States seek to curb Pyongyang’s efforts to develop long-range nuclear weapons.

some speculated -including the UN- that the weapons shipment were destined to be received by the egyptian armed forces. however, the shipment reportedly  belongs to “business men”.

in the light of the circumstances it is believed that egypt is demonstrating its Political cunning by maintaining its relations in and out of MENA region with the least negative outcomes.

By: Abdulrahman Sami


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