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Exclusive- Issues that Kept Egypt’s Foreign Policy Busy in 2017

Exclusive- Issues that Kept Egypt’s Foreign Policy Busy in 2017

Saturday, 30 December, 2017 - 09:00
Khaled Fawzi (center), head of Egyptian intelligence, arrives with Fatah's Azzam al-Ahmad (left) and Hamas' Saleh al-Aruri before signing a reconciliation deal in Cairo. AFP file photo

Egypt’s foreign policy in 2017 could be summed up in several “strategic moves” made by Cairo on international crises.

Improved Relations with Saudi Arabia: There is no doubt that ties between Cairo and Riyadh in 2017 witnessed improvement and gained immunity against any turmoil. Due to strong cohesion in the anti-terror Arab quartet, the future of joint Arab and regional cooperation could first and foremost rely on Egypt and South Arabia.

I expect the two countries to focus next year on the Palestinian cause, mainly the decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The Palestinian Reconciliation: Any analyst would consider the Palestinian reconciliation one of Egypt’s main achievements in 2017.

Egypt’s intelligence had followed the negotiations closely after pressuring Hamas movement to cede civil power in the Gaza Strip.

Effective Engagement in Syria: Since the eruption of the Syrian crisis six years ago, Egypt has been calling for the engagement of all parties in a political process and has rejected the support for armed groups.

Despite some criticism, Cairo believes that the current status quo in Syria is evidence on the right path taken by Egypt regarding the war-torn country. Egypt not only made a theoretical proposal, it also engaged itself in the establishment of safe zones in Syria.

Patience on Russia: I believe that Egypt managed political relations with the “Russian friend” on the basis of “ethical patience.”

Russian procrastination in resuming direct flights to Egypt was baseless and unexpected. Yet Cairo was shrewd in managing its strategic ties with Moscow.

The visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Cairo lately is a sign that the issue of tourism and civilian air traffic will be resolved.

Rejection of Iranian Influence in Yemen: Cairo has backed all efforts to preserve the legitimate government of Yemen and has rejected Iran’s meddling in the country’s affairs and its threats to Arab national security.

It’s obvious that in 2018 Egypt will reject any rise in Iranian influence and continued infighting in Yemen.

Nile Obstacles: Egypt proved that it had good intentions regarding the construction of the massive dam on the Blue Nile  in Ethiopia. Yet the negotiations process has hit some obstacles.

Egypt should stress that the issue could be solved through cooperation and not confrontation. I expect decisions on the issue next year out of concern for Egypt’s share of water from the Nile.

Boycott of Qatar: We can use the saying “better late than never” in summing up ties with Qatar. I believe that Arab patience delayed the decision to boycott Qatar. In the new year, Egypt should be keen on the cohesion of the Arab Quartet and overcome all measures taken by Doha to make economic temptations to some countries.

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