The major interactions and transformations taking place in the Middle East in recent times represent a great bet on Cairo, especially in engineering its relations with Abu Dhabi during the new year, after the UAE has become – according to indications and observers – a direct threat to national security and Egyptian interests.
The Egyptians of the alliance of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed, only reaped thorns over a period of about 7 years, which increased in intensity with the normalization of relations between the Emirates and Israel and its repercussions, such as announcing plans targeting the vital role of the Egyptian Suez Canal and its ports, and not using its relations. With Ethiopia for the sake of Egyptian interests in the case of Nahda, as well as dwarfing Cairo’s historic role in the Palestinian file.
Regionally, Abu Dhabi pushed Al-Sisi to support its regional allies, and to engage in political and military confrontations with Turkey, especially in the Libyan file and the gas exploration areas in the eastern Mediterranean, at the expense of Egyptian capabilities and wealth.
Observers believe that the positions and actions of the UAE have become a threat to Egyptian national security, and that there are indications that may affect the warmth of relations between the two countries in the new year, which would impose an alternative map of allies in the region.
What did the UAE gain from Sisi’s rule?
The UAE contributed to engineering the scene of the military coup on 3 July 2013, a year or more ago, as it focused its relations with the military and some of the Egyptian elite figures, then the leakage scandal came to prove that the UAE is making direct secret transfers for the benefit of the armed forces and some of its leaders, according to what the researcher confirmed Al-Masry in political science, Omar Samir.
In his speech – to Al-Jazeera Net – Samir noted the most prominent fruits the UAE reaped early, after the arrival of Sisi to power in 2014, which was its penetration into the health, education and agricultural sectors, as it acquired chains of hospitals and private analysis laboratories scattered in Egypt, and hundreds of thousands of acres in National agricultural projects, and finally some Emirati companies began to expand in the international education sector, whose main tasks are to create a sustainable loyal elite for the Emirates.
It has also funded large Egyptian institutions such as Dar al-Ifta, and in particular the “Observatory of Takfiri Fatwas and Militant Opinions” affiliated with Dar al-Ifta, and through it they were able to demonize the political Islam movement and some projects affiliated with Al-Azhar, in addition to its great control over the class of strategic experts and researchers whose research centers, channels, and owned websites are full. For her and Saudi Arabia, and their bestowal on them in a way that corrupted many of them, according to Samir.
Threat to Egyptian national security
Samir identified 4 prominent threats regarding the UAE’s control over Egypt’s capabilities, the first of which relates to the health and agricultural sectors, especially in the event of a dispute between the two countries’ political systems, as the UAE has become the largest Arab investor since 2014, and in some years it was the largest international investor in Egypt.
The second of these threats relates to the Libyan file, as Egypt lost the mediating role in the crisis, and this subordination to the UAE lost Egypt a large market for its currency that exceeds the Emirati market, and it also lost a vital role in a case that was supposed to be the first front in it, and to be a guarantor of peace and stability, and that Contribute directly to the process of building state institutions.
The third threat is related to the Palestinian issue, as the rush towards normalization made Egypt lose the mediating role in the already dilapidated peace process, but it was a vital file for Egyptian politics, especially in terms of the United States ’reliance on Egypt, whether to sponsor truce agreements, or even to install security arrangements between the Palestinian Authority and the Israelis.
The UAE is also seeking to bring Muhammad Dahlan, the dismissed leader of the Fatah movement, advisor to the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, to power at the expense of President Mahmoud Abbas, who is closest to the Egyptian vision of the peace process, and currently Egypt’s role has become focused on blessing Gulf and non-Gulf peace agreements for fear of losing the position of the UAE. According to Samir.
As for the fourth threats, it is the escalation of the Egyptian-Turkish dispute in the eastern Mediterranean, bringing it to the edge of the abyss and the possibilities of a clash, and it is a file in which Egypt conceded a lot to Greece and Cyprus and lost thousands of square kilometers of marine space and the wealth underneath it, only for intrigue with the Turkish regime and to prove its loyalty to the Emirates.
And the fifth threat relates to the land and rail links to be established to link the Gulf with Israel and Europe. This is a dangerous threat that separates the Arab Mashreq from the rest of the region and loses the Suez Canal part of its income and its strategic importance.
Although Egyptian officials have reduced this danger, it is a serious threat. If Egypt is excluded from the East Med gas pipeline, it will lose a lot of its already declining strategic importance.
Samir emphasized that the Emirati steps are not random, but rather part of a plan to remove Egypt and Saudi Arabia from the region’s leadership.
In turn, the Egyptian economic analyst, Mustafa Abdel Salam, warned of the danger of normalization projects to national security and the Egyptian economy, noting that it is a link with an agreement to establish a competing project for the Suez Canal, and a pipeline to transport Gulf oil to Europe through Israeli ports.
He explained that about 60% of this oil currently passes through the Suez Canal, which brings billions of dollars to the Egyptian treasury, as well as the UAE’s acquisition of Israeli ports that compete with Egyptian ports.
Warm zone in the new year
Egyptian researcher Omar Samir believes that some Egyptian agencies have begun to get bored with this alliance, which the regime has always described as strategic, and this uneasiness was evident towards the Libyan file in a way that led to no more intervention and to return to the attempt to sponsor some rounds of negotiations within the international framework and stop the escalation.
It seems that Egypt has realized late in the danger of being cut off from presence in Libya, as a delegation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Intelligence visited the capital, Tripoli, last Sunday, at the beginning of the return of the tense relations since 2014, against the background of Cairo’s bias towards the forces of retired Major General Khalifa Haftar, who is supported by the United Arab Emirates.
Samir indicated that some circles close to the Egyptian regime see in the haste to normalize, away from the Egyptian mediation, a withdrawal of the role from Egypt and from these agencies, specifically the General and Military Intelligence, and then some critical voices appear in the media arms.
But he saw that this contradiction is minimal, explaining that the Sisi regime knows how to blackmail the UAE to push more towards its acceptance of its new role, as it does not want leadership roles in the region.
He said that Al-Sisi is begging for foreign investment and aid, and regular and regular meetings with officials of some countries, and his regime does not move beyond the eastern Mediterranean, which he sees in it a vital file for this role, while it is linked to the two lowest European countries in terms of power, namely Greece and Cyprus.