As a loyal Egyptian citizen, it is difficult not to be deeply biased when discussing Egyptian affairs. However, in this article, I will give an objective panoramic view of the Egyptian political scene on the regional and international levels in a values-versus-interests world.
First, the determinants of the current political scene at home:
- Indications of Egypt’s stability and security are on the rise, which reassure Egyptians about the strength of the state.
- Egypt’s rigorous counter-terrorism efforts have become a practical model to follow, resulting in significant achievements to combat criminal and terrorist activities.
- Egypt is currently being rebuilt, through inaugurating mega projects, establishing new cities, and implementing a massive national road network nationwide.
- Egypt’s economic reforms have helped promote progress and increase the rates of development; a fact acknowledged by all international institutions. In addition, there are still future developments in the fields of manufacturing, exportation, investment and agriculture.
- In tandem with Egypt’s economic reform program, a number of social solidarity initiatives were launched, a number of “100 Million Health” initiatives were implemented, and health-insurance services were extended all over Egypt.
- The repercussions of the coronavirus are being successfully addressed, in the same manner followed in developed countries. Possible future scenarios are accounted for.
- Egypt’s Senate and House of Representatives elections were conducted in a calm, safe and organised atmosphere. Municipal elections will follow.
- The Egyptian Armed Forces, the strongest armed forces in the region, are being constantly modernized, so that they can carry out any political leadership mandates required to maintain Egyptian national security at home and abroad.
Second, the determinants of the growing Egyptian role in resolving pivotal issues, which led to positive developments on the regional level:
- Egypt has played a key role in paving the way for a global political solution to the Libyan conflict. The latest UN-backed conferences, even if they resulted in little achievements, are the result of the comprehensive Egyptian vision presented in the Cairo Declaration of 6 June 2020. The declaration depends on a Libyan-Libyan solution that is in line with international initiatives proposed to resolve the crisis.
- Egypt holds unchanging constants regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). For Egypt, Ethiopia has the right to achieve economic development and generate electricity, but on the condition that Egypt’s Nile water share, which is a red line for Egypt, is not compromised. Despite the obstacles, Egypt is keen on reaching a fair and sustainable agreement that secures the interests of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan.
- Egypt has developed relations with Sudan in the political, economic, commercial and military fields since the fall of Omar Al-Bashir’s regime. The most important of these was the visit of Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly to Sudan in August 2020 accompanied by a high-level delegation. Egypt was also an important partner in supporting the Juba Peace Agreement signed in October. In addition, Egyptian and Sudanese air forces conducted Nile Eagles 1 military drill, which is their first joint military exercise.
- Egypt supports the Palestinian position on a political settlement, that is resuming negotiations and establishing an independent Palestinian state on the pre-1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, living side by side in peace, security and stability with Israel.
- Egypt exerts great efforts to achieve intra-Palestinian reconciliation. Fatah and Hamas officials’ meetings in Cairo can contribute to paving the way for ending a division that has lasted for more than 13 years if the two parties have the political will.
- Egypt maintains distinguished ties with Arab Gulf states – except for Qatar – believing that Egyptian national security is based on the security of its Arab and African peripheries.
- Egypt has achieved a strategic partnership with Jordan and Iraq with the aim of achieving the strategic interests of the three countries.
- In September 2020, the East Mediterranean Gas Forum, founded in January 2019, was transformed into an intergovernmental gas organisation based in Cairo and comprising several Arab, European, Israeli and other countries as observers, with the aim of benefiting from the natural wealth of the Eastern Mediterranean region and establishing a regional gas market in accordance with international law.
- Egypt has played a major role in the crises and conflicts that befell Arab countries such as Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon. It has also strengthened relations with Maghreb countries.
- Egypt has maintained balanced relations with Israel, with which it had signed a peace treaty more than four decades ago. Furthermore, it welcomed the recent Israeli normalization agreements with a number of Arab countries, as its unique position on the regional and international levels cannot be affected by agreements of any nature.
Third, the determinants of the growing Egyptian role on the international level:
- Egypt has very good relations with all European countries, particularly Germany, France, Italy, and the UK. The Egyptian political leadership is keen to have ongoing consultations with world leaders to discuss issues of common interest in different fields.
- Egypt has remarkable relations with major international players, especially Russia, China, India, Japan, and Southeast Asian countries.
- The partnership between Egypt, Greece, and Cyprus, launched in Egypt in 2014, has been affirmed through eight summits meant at strengthening the three countries’ political, economic, trade, military, and security ties, and addressing threats and risks in the Eastern Mediterranean.
- In August 2020, Egypt, Greece, and Cyprus signed a maritime demarcation agreement guaranteeing Egypt’s rights in the Exclusive Economic Zone in the Eastern Mediterranean, in line with international law, to stop any regional country from infringing on areas to which it has no rights.
- In the field of international military exercises, a shift has been initiated, as a number of naval vessels of the Egyptian Armed Forces headed to the Black Sea where a joint Egyptian-Russian naval training (Friendship Bridge-3) would take place. This military exercise is the first naval manoeuvre that takes place in the Black Sea between both countries.
- Egypt fully supports the United Nations as an international organization aimed at maintaining international peace and security, while calling for taking certain measures to affirm its role on the international level.
- Egypt strengthens ties with all African and Islamic countries. In this regard, the Egyptian role has been historically and strategically highly remarkable.
Fourth, the determinants of the Egypt-US relations. The US’ presidential election is witnessing an unprecedented battle and the endgame is yet unknown.
- Egypt-US strategic relations cannot be affected by the nature of the US administration, whether democratic or republican, especially as the two countries are keen to continue, support and develop these relations.
- Egypt’s expert, professional, political leadership is able to successfully deal with any US president while preserving Egypt’s interests worldwide.
- Adopting different views or ways to address issues between Egypt and the US is normal and predictable; however, the strategic relationship between the two countries can contain all the differences.
- The Democratic administration was a strategic partner in the Middle East peace process, as it laid a fair basis for Arab-Israeli peace during the conclusion of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel in March 1979. Moreover, the largest arms deals between Israel and the US took place at the end of the second term of the Democratic administration of former president Barack Obama.
- The Republican administration, headed by President George H. W. Bush, gathered all the parties to the Arab-Israeli conflict at the 1990 Madrid Peace Conference. In addition, in April 2003, the Republican administration, headed by president George W. Bush, launched the quartet road map and set out the two-state solution principle.
Therefore, I believe there should be no concerns regarding the Egyptian-US relations in light of a Democratic administration that is supposed to start its term on 20 January 2021. This is due to Egypt’s great history as a powerful nation and its current remarkable position on both the regional and international fronts.
In conclusion, Egypt is keen on taking steady steps toward further progress and development at home. In tandem, it is also keen on playing a significant role on both the regional and international levels as part of its responsibility to the international community.
These strenuous efforts are the sum of three main elements: President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi’s great endeavours; the state institutions’ enthusiasm to implement the country’s ambitious plans; and the Egyptian nation’s great support of the state in the hope of a better future.