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Egypt’s means to tackle critical issues

Egypt’s political leadership is seriously handling the regional files at this critical juncture in history. It is imperative to point out that Egypt’s domestic power is one of the keys for its ability to handle the foreign issues. If anything, this is proof that Egypt’s successes in foreign files are based on its solid base at home.

Domestic action tracks

At home, Egypt works through three main action tracks. Its domestic action is characterized by combining two main principles: comprehensiveness and diversity; balance and parallelism. These tracks could be explained as below:

The first track is that of building and development which Egypt is moving towards unprecedentedly to gradually take the state into a new phase of modernization that is worthy of a country like Egypt. The most significant strength of this track is that it isn’t confined to a specific geographical area but extends to cover all parts of the state bar none with the aim of achieving advancement across the state. Another critical point in this respect is Egypt’s success in making the link between this track and national security requirements as is clearly manifested in the mega development and investment projects, practically those carried out in Sinai and the Western region.

The second track is of social protection and development. Social protection schemes cover under its umbrella millions of the Egyptian people whose quality of life and standard of living are highly dependent on the role of the state in social welfare. To that end, institutions of the state put in herculean efforts to provide a decent life to all citizens in aspects of social housing, financial support, in addition to successive health initiatives serving millions and covering all health areas, which contributed to the State’s success in combating Covid-19 pandemic – yet the comprehensive response to Covid-19 still requires more awareness.  

The third track is that of continued support for the country’s military capabilities to stand ready to take up the never-ending challenges and threats. Such support has clearly paid off resulting in the classification of the Egyptian Armed Forces (EAF) among the ten most powerful militaries worldwide (after entry of the state-of-art attack submarine S43 into service) along with the EAF’s developmental role at the domestic level within the State’s developmental and economic system. 

Countering terrorism

Likewise, an analysis of Egypt’s movements in external files isn’t possible without making reference to Egypt’s signal success in countering terrorism and eliminating threats of the terrorist groups, a key requirement to stability and development. Indeed, Egypt’s unique experience in countering terrorism provides a role model for the whole world, regionally and internationally. Despite this success, two key points should be noted:

First: The threats facing Egypt will show no sign of abating; thus, security intelligence and the current response at both the intellectual and security levels should continue to exist being our first buffer against terrorism.

Second: Regional and international developments indicate that possible resurgence of terrorism is possible at any time given the prospect return of the Islamic State in Syria, Iraq, the Sahel, and Sahara region and the potential impacts of the United States’ withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan, a situation that should be carefully considered from now.

Prominent external files

As for the external files that are of a great importance and priority for Egypt, the Egyptian state is showing a deep interest in all political, military, security and economic developments at the regional and international levels. Today, no country can remain isolated from or immune to successive developments particularly when it comes to Egypt, a major regional power that has a strategic stature worldwide and plays a significant role in shaping events and directly affecting developments.

In this sense, I’ll be highlighting the most important three external issues that are currently prioritized for their direct impact on the Egyptian national security, namely the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) issue, the Libyan crisis, and the Palestinian cause – three issues that Egypt is successfully dealing with and it would be no exaggeration to say that the political leadership follows-up around the clock on all national security issues in general and these three issues in particular. 

The GERD crisis 

So far, the political effort on the GERD crisis didn’t yield any results that could potentially give rise to an acceptable and satisfactory solution that may defuse this crisis, the possible threats of which to the regional and world security and stability are not yet realized by the international community whose dealing with the crisis remains below par and it shall bear full responsibility for any deterioration of the situation, without detracting from the international and African mediation that, however, lacked effectiveness and impact.  

The Ethiopian position hasn’t broken from its earlier frameworks that have no reasonable logic nor palatable justification. Addis Ababa continues to waste time by needless machinations, procrastination, and putting forward unacceptable proposals, flagrantly violating not only international laws and conventions but also the Declaration of Principles it signed on March 2015 and seeking to unilaterally interpret and implement it to its interests, something that is rejected in form and substance. 

On the other side, the Egyptian and the Sudanese positions are consistent necessitating the need to reach a comprehensive binding agreement on the filling and operation of the dam through the political negotiations path which haven’t been ruled out yet of the peaceful solution agenda with the two countries moving externally to explain the circumstance of the crisis. However, the question remains as until when negotiations will continue without achieving any results. 

Ten years of negotiation without any concrete results is a sufficient period to judge the intransigent nature of the Ethiopian position. Evaluating the negotiations should be done with severity of the crisis in mind so that it is a critical driver for the United States and the international community to intervene to break this vicious circle of negotiations and reach an agreement. As far as I judge, time is of the essence and it has become a more critical factor than ever before particularly with the crisis undergoing a turning point where there is no going back.

Any pleas to the Ethiopian side to be flexible and not to move forward the second filling expected in July without reaching a binding agreement with the downstream countries seem to fall on deaf ears given the intransigent Ethiopian stance that shows no flexibility till now. Accordingly, Addis Ababa should be fully convinced that Egypt will not accept fait accompli policy and will not relinquish its water rights, which it considers a red line and Ethiopians officials should realize that a “red line” is not a mere slogan but it means much.

Therefore, my calling to Ethiopia is to reconsider the whole situation and not to suppose that just because it is the upstream country it has the ability to control the flow rate in a way that negatively affects water security of Egypt and Sudan with all its negative repercussions it might have. Moreover, Ethiopia should be fully aware that Egypt will not allow, under any circumstances, to be left suffering thirst whatever the reasons, justifications, or implications are. One last word I address to Addis Ababa, when it comes to facing an existential issue, the sky is the limit of our action. 

The Libyan crisis

Undoubtedly, Egypt is currently notching up more success in dealing with all aspects of the Libyan crisis, which reflects the success of Egypt’s comprehensive vision for the solution offered since the onset of the crisis. Egypt has already started to enjoy the benefits of its endeavor welcomed by the Libyan leadership and Libyan people, emphasizing the importance of restoring Libya’s strong unified Arab state, which would be only possible through peaceful resolution to the crisis, stopping of foreign intervention in Libyan affairs, and withdrawal of all forces and militias from the Libyan lands so that the internal situation is geared towards fulfilling requirements of the next phase. 

In this respect, Egypt’s movements toward the Libyan crisis can be identified as follows:

First, providing unequivocal support for the new Libyan leadership and promoting greater coordination with the Government and the presidential council towards the presidential elections scheduled for December 2021.

Second, moving along the economic path to bring about a shift in developing Libya by transferring the Egyptian expertise in all possible areas to Libya. Hence came the successful visit of Prime Minister, Dr. Mostafa Madbouly, to Libya on 21 April, with 11 ministers, which resulted in signing several agreements and memoranda of understanding in numerous areas (e.g. Egyptian labor, infrastructure, reinvigorating the Joint Higher Committee, electricity, roads, transportation, and exchange of goods).

The Palestinian cause

Egypt has not and will never cease defending the Palestinian cause in all spheres. Egypt has taken upon itself multiple responsibilities to resolve the Palestinian issue including its roles in reconciliation, ending divisions, appeasement, and prisoner exchange. Egypt firmly believes that resolution to the Palestinian issue is key to stability in the region, a goal that will never be realized unless there is an independent sovereign state with East Jerusalem as its capital – a true translation of the two-state solution that should be reached through negotiations.

While Egypt provides every support to help Palestinians put their house in order – as is manifested in Cairo recent hosting of two dialogue sessions in February and March bringing together all Palestinian factions around the table – Egypt is keen not to intervene in the Palestinian political decision and a lot more careful to avoid any internal conflicts giving rise to more divisions, fissures, and disputes in a time where unity and putting aside the narrow partisan differences are much-needed to face Judaization and settlement schemes and the Israeli parties’ betting on  capturing the remaining Palestinian land. For whatever reason these internal conflicts exist, they wouldn’t accrue for the benefit of the Palestinian cause. 

Conclusion

Egypt deals with national security issues in all seriousness building its approach in handling those issues on a solid ground that draws its strength from stability of the internal situation. And if I had to send a message to anyone in this respect, it would be to the Egyptian people to trust their political leadership, mobilize around it, and be fully convinced that its national leadership under President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi is keen and capable of meeting aspirations of the Egyptian people, both internally as is manifested in the mega projects being implemented in record time and externally as is revealed by Egypt’s clear vision and careful consideration of all the external files. Egypt’s political decision will remain strong and firm as long as it is stemming from a conscious and honest leadership and enjoying support from a civilized population that is ready to sacrifice all it has to preserve the integrity of their home and defend their sacred land.

Gen. Mohamed Eldewery
Deputy Manager

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