The year 2020 will pass in light of successive regional and international developments and changes, experts and observers expect to have an impact on various fields during the next year, especially with regard to the external relations of countries of the world, including Egypt.
Developments such as the change of the US administration, the initiatives to endorse the Gulf reconciliation, the successive developments of the regional crises in the region, foremost of which are the Libyan crisis, the increase in the intensity of the conflict in the Eastern Mediterranean, the conflict of the Tigray region in Ethiopia, and the issue of Arab normalization with Israel; All are variables expected to cast a shadow over Egypt’s relations and foreign policies.
However, observers believe that the progress and change in the foreign policy of Egypt is usually slow, and therefore they do not expect a significant impact of these changes, and that the change at the level of foreign relations will be limited, while others see that it is possible to expect some forms of inevitable change resulting from these developments.
The following is a monitoring of analysts and experts’ expectations of possible changes or shifts in the file of Egypt’s foreign relations.
Egyptian political science professor Khairy Omar believes that the nature of the Egyptian relationship with America is characterized by strategy, and therefore no major change is expected in its form. He also does not expect a change in the American policy except for some demands that can be reformed and negotiated.
Mamdouh Al-Munir, director of the International Institute for Political Science and Strategy in Istanbul, also excludes a change in the relationship with America, since it is the Ministry of Defense, national security services and US intelligence that determines its nature – according to his assessment – but he did not rule out a limited and selective improvement in the field of human rights in Egypt, as a result of pressures.
And Middle East researcher Ammar Fayed believes that Biden’s repeated pledges to a different approach to freedoms in the region will cast a shadow over the relationship of the two countries, expecting that the detainees’ file will be a disturbing matter, going that if the US positions intensify, Egypt will seek to strengthen its alternatives by strengthening Its relations with Russia and China.
Meanwhile, Mustafa Youssef, director of the International Center for Development Studies (based in Toronto, Canada) believes that relations with America will be cold and lukewarm, because the human rights file will be under the Biden government’s radar, but military coordination with the Egyptian army will continue.
The Gulf Crisis
With regard to the Gulf crisis file, Khairy Omar believes that Egypt’s position towards the reconciliation file is positive, and it could develop during the next year, expecting the space for political communication with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to advance, and an improvement in the relationship with Qatar, which may lead to a decline in the relative weight of the relationship with the UAE.
While Mamdouh Al-Munir believes that Egypt’s policy towards the crisis is linked to the position of the UAE, as he believes that Sisi will wait for its decision to take a harmonious position with him, which may land him in trouble, according to his estimation, if Riyadh favors reconciliation regardless of Abu Dhabi’s position.
While Ammar Fayed – who is seeking to obtain a doctorate in political science from Istanbul Eden University – does not believe that Egypt has a desire to change the form of its relations with Qatar, the decision of the blockade was aimed at changing Qatar’s foreign policy, and in fact the blockade strengthened it, so any understandings will not be an end The crisis is as much as it is to find another formula for the conflict with Qatar.
Meanwhile, Mustafa Youssef believes that the Egyptian regime has followed in this file the hostile Gulf states to Qatar, and therefore their position is related to the extent of the solution that can be brought about in the reconciliation file.
Turkey and the Eastern Mediterranean
Omar believes that Egypt’s fluctuating policy towards the eastern Mediterranean will continue, and that it is not expected to be resolved during the next stage due to Egypt’s dense economic relations with Turkey, going that its future depends on the ongoing dialogue between Turkey and the European Union in this regard.
While Fayed believes that Egypt’s Mediterranean agenda will gain American support, with Biden clearly siding with Greece and Cyprus in their crisis with Turkey.
Al-Munir argues that Sisi will seek to exploit Biden’s anti-regime stance in Turkey, and will try to approach the US administration through him, by presenting himself as a disturbing party to Turkey in the Mediterranean.
Meanwhile, Youssef believes that Egypt will not escalate its differences with Turkey, and the level of their relationship may freeze at the level that it is, due to its desire to harmonize with the cautious European position, because the interest of NATO is not to find a justification for greater rapprochement between Turkey and Russia.
Omar believes that the Egyptian position on the Libyan crisis may change slowly, pointing out that its endeavor for rapprochement through the development of a political solution collides with the intensity of international intervention, and the lack of an integrated and clear map for a peaceful transition.
As for Al-Munir, he believes that Egypt’s policy towards Libya will be determined based on the US position. If Biden’s priority is to escalate with Turkey, it will correspond to Sisi’s desire, and if Washington’s priority is not escalation, the situation will remain as it is.
Whereas, Fayed believes that Biden’s endeavor to prevent Russia from acquiring wider influence in Libya will pose Egypt to a challenge to its agenda in the Libyan file, but Egypt is not expected to give up its support for General Khalifa Haftar’s forces.
Youssef pointed out that Egypt will reconsider its policy from the Libyan crisis, with the increase in the parties supporting the legitimate rights of the Libyan government, in light of what is expected of greater bias from the Biden government towards the party of the reconciliation government.
Ethiopia and the Renaissance Dam
In the context of relations with southern Nile countries, Khairy Omar believes that Egypt’s foreign policy in Africa will witness a positive development that strengthens its relations in the African continent, which will give it an advantage over the Renaissance Dam file, and this is expected to have an impact during 2021.
Whereas Fayed believes that Egypt will strive for the Biden administration to adopt the same position as the previous administration in support of Cairo, with the punitive measures taken by Trump to put pressure on Ethiopia.
Meanwhile, Mostafa argues that the developments in the Tigray region and the assumption of a democratic administration are in the interest of Egypt, which will help it to pursue a more influential policy during the next year.
As for the file of relations with Israel and the increase in the pace of normalization, Omar does not expect a change in Cairo’s relations with Tel Aviv, as he sees it stalled at a point where Egypt finds nothing tempting to advance in it. To a warmer level.
Meanwhile, Youssef believes that Egypt’s policy towards Israel may witness a slight change, against the backdrop of Biden’s support for the two-state solution, which could change with him the Egyptian role in dealing with the Palestinian issue.
Meanwhile, Al-Munir believes that the relationship with Israel will continue as it exists, considering that the Sisi regime is a “strategic treasure for the occupying entity,” as long as it continues to provide its services to it.