August 13, 2022

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Regional Politics of Egypt – Ibrahim Awad

Posted in: Saturday 20 February 2021 – 9:15 PM | Last update: Saturday 20 February 2021 – 9:15 PM

The title is in the plural form because Egypt belongs to multiple regions on the one hand, and then because it has different policies even within the same region. There is an opinion that Egypt adheres to the interest in certain regions defined by the Nasserite period in the 1950s and 1960s, and that there is no inevitability in these regions. Indeed, there is no determinism in these territories or in any of the matters related to the behavior of human societies. However, there are determinants of the behavior of these groups, including Egypt. In modern definitions of territories in the science of international relations the geographical dimension is not necessary. Characteristics that a group of states share, such as economic progress, political choices, the pursuit of development, or religious affiliation, which form the basis for behavior upon which they agree, are sufficient for these states to be defined as constituting a region. But the territory in this definition is a choice. A country chooses or not to be in the region that unites the developed countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or in the region that unites countries that did not align themselves with any of the Cold War camps in the Non-Aligned Movement, or the developing countries in the Group of 77, or countries With a majority Muslim population in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. But the territories that are inescapable are those determined by geography. In the case of Egypt, the Arab world and Africa are two natural territories defined by geography, and not defined by the Nasser period. Modern Egypt and the two regions have interacted since before 1952 in various degrees and forms during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
In recent months and weeks, Egypt has moved in the Arab region in particular and to a lesser extent in the African region, with policies that distinguish it from other countries in the two regions. In the Arab region, Egypt has moved on the issue that gained the bulk of Egyptian foreign activity in three quarters of the last century, namely the Palestinian issue. It seems that the opinion in Egypt was that it spent much of its political and moral resources in defense of the Palestinian cause, considering its direct impact on Egypt’s interests and its position in the region, meaning that disdain and neglect the issue, as well as its oppression of the Palestinian people, is a disregard for the interests of Egypt itself and neglect it. . Thus, Egypt and Jordan met and noted that they are closest to the Palestinian cause, suggesting that they are closer to it than other Arab countries that had their unique approaches in the last half year. The two countries met and called a meeting of an emergency session of the Council of the League of Arab States and presented to it a strong draft resolution in its form based on the Arab Peace Initiative issued by the Beirut Summit in 2002, and the decision was passed unanimously by the member states of the League, including those that received delegations from Israeli settlements other than Legitimacy in the West Bank of the Jordan River, which means that Egypt, along with Jordan, has regained the lead in regard to any efforts that may arise to settle the Palestinian issue. It may be useful to indicate that the two countries supported their initiative with a regional effort, as Germany and France joined them in their stance on settling the Palestinian issue, and the foreign ministers of the four countries held two meetings in this regard in the last six months. The foregoing coincided with the sponsorship of reconciliation between the divided Palestinian factions, and these factions reached an agreement in Cairo on a road map for reuniting and renewing Palestinian institutions. This is the first Egyptian regional policies drawn in recent weeks, which distinguish it from the policies of other countries in the region.
Egypt and Jordan are also parties to a tripartite coordination mechanism with Iraq, which began its work in March 2019 in Cairo, then a summit was held in August 2020 in Amman and two meetings of the foreign ministers of the three countries in October 2020 and in February this year. The mechanism is an informal arrangement in the sense that it is not based on any international legal agreement yet, and this is one of the familiar approaches in regional and sub-regional international organization, and its members did not specify areas for coordination but rather left them open and they apparently focused in the ministers’ meeting last October on coordination in the fields. However, this did not prevent the Jordanian Foreign Minister from confirming after the meeting that there are common visions between the three countries, pointing out that “the Palestinian issue is our first central issue and it is still and will remain a matter of full attention and focus.” In light of this, it does not seem to be a superficial consideration that, although he was not one of the callers to the meeting of the emergency session of the Arab League Council referred to above, Iraq shares Egypt and Jordan with their position on the issue and its settlement. This reinforces the differentiation in regional approaches.
In the matter of Qatar, what was agreed upon by the competing states members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, and even signed the statement issued by the member states of the Council, was applied to Egypt, which was surprising at the time. However, after Egypt restored its diplomatic relations with Qatar, it was announced by a minister Its foreign affairs show that the two countries are in the process of setting dates for holding bilateral committees to discuss their own issues. This is another expression of an Egyptian policy in the region regarding a specific country, which is distinct from the policies of others and focuses on what concerns it and its interests.
In Libya, Egyptian politics has developed remarkably in recent months. For a period of time, Egypt severed all ties with the reconciliation government in Tripoli and chose to support the Tobruk government and Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s incalculable attempt to end the conflict between East and West militarily, or at least not to openly object to it. The Field Marshal did not succeed in his endeavor, and any analysis as shown in this section of our glorious newspaper in January of last year was to show that he could not succeed in it. Field Marshal Haftar’s siege of Tripoli and the support he received from some were among the reasons for attracting Turkey to Libya, and thus a problem arose for Egypt that it could not need. The details of the Egyptian decision to balance its relations with the two parties to the Libyan conflict are unknown, but it is a correct decision. Last November, Cairo received the Minister of Interior in the reconciliation government, who was considered by some to be an untreated supporter for Turkey and the Muslim Brotherhood, and in recent weeks it sent a delegation to Tripoli to discuss the resumption of diplomatic relations with it, then the Egyptian Foreign Minister met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the reconciliation government on the occasion of the emergency session For the Council of the League of Arab States, and after that Egypt actually resumed diplomatic relations with the Government of National Accord and sent another delegation to Tripoli to open its embassy there, and it met with the same Libyan Minister of Interior. Meanwhile, Egypt hosted in Hurghada the constitutional track talks and military security talks in which the two Libyan teams looking for a settlement of their disputes participated. When the Libyan political meeting in Geneva in the first week of February elected the members of the Presidency Council and the head of the transitional unity government, Egypt welcomed the election results and announced its support for the plan leading to general elections at the end of this year. Then the head of the new government visited Cairo and was received by the President of the Republic, who repeated the expression of Egypt’s support for the settlement plan in Libya. There are still doubts about the success of the Libyan settlement and reconciliation plan, and there are those who say, for example, that there is no agreement in the visions that brings together the three members of the Presidency Council, which would make the implementation of the settlement and the holding of elections difficult. Nevertheless, Egypt’s communication with all the parties to the Libyan conflict is the correct policy that avoids the risks of external interference, which may have enabled it to mediate and reconcile between the parties to the conflict. The position acquired by a mediator and conciliator needs no indication.
In Africa, there is no solution yet in sight to the dispute over the Renaissance Dam, but despite the ongoing disagreement over Halayeb and Shalateen, relations seem to be getting closer with the new Sudan, and the President of the Republic visited South Sudan last November. Any close relations with the countries of our African continent, and not only with the countries of the Nile Basin, would support Egypt’s position in the aforementioned dispute over the waters of the Immortal River. Therefore, it seemed strange, and the foreign ministry’s spokesperson’s office was entrusted with the fact that the foreign minister talked last week with the Finnish Minister of Foreign Affairs about the issue of the Renaissance Dam and not to do so with the foreign minister of Burkina Faso who visited him on the same day.
Egypt has moved recently in a geographical region that it had separated since 1952, namely the Mediterranean region. As well as geography, the Mediterranean is part of Egypt’s ancient and modern history. It is true that Egypt is a member of the Union for the Mediterranean, but this is a multilateral European Mediterranean international organization. Acting in international organizations, global or regional, differs from bilateral interaction with member states of the same organizations. However, the Egyptian move is in the eastern basin of the Mediterranean alone, and in addition to the natural gas at the bottom of this basin, it seems mainly concerned with confronting Turkish policy, although the meeting held in the second week of this month in Athens of the foreign ministers of Egypt, Greece and Cyprus touched on issues Others, and he noted the need to settle the “Palestinian-Israeli conflict” on the basis of the two-state solution and other conditions contained in the resolution presented by Egypt and Jordan and approved by the emergency session of the League of Arab States Council. A comprehensive Mediterranean policy for all countries located on the Mediterranean Sea, without dividing it into two basins, with external, economic and cultural dimensions is required.
Medium-power countries have their interests in the regions in which they are located. Therefore, it is regional policies that protect and promote these interests, and they are what support its place in the broader international system.
The continuation and deepening of the recent trends in the regional policies of Egypt will support Egypt’s position and enhance the realization of its interests.