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Egypt's position in the changing equations of the region

January 27, 2014 at 11:13 am

Since the start of the Arab spring, the Arab world has undergone many strategic changes. Egypt’s position following these changes must be determined, particularly since the Arab Spring has led to political blunders in Egypt. Egypt has withdrawn from regional affairs and regional mapping without playing an active role that is befitting of its geographic and strategic magnitude.

Regional equations over the past three decades, since the Camp David Accords, are based on four assumptions; the first assumption is reliant on the strength of US-Saudi relations. The second assumption involves removing Egypt regional conflicts on all fronts, so that it devotes itself entirely to internal affairs; eliminating corruption and despotism within Egypt. This turns Egypt into a state that was completely dependent on the United States. The Camp David Accords are a cornerstone of the second assumption.

This assumption was reinforced by a third assumption; the building of a strategic relationship between Egypt and Israel that would generate stability for Israel by eliminating the burden of the Palestinian issue and striking the Palestinian resistance. These situations would become normalised so that Israel ends the Palestinian question and undermines its resistance. As a result, Israel, Egypt and Washington have formed an alliance that serves, primarily, the Zionists needs. It provides peace with Israel for Egypt in exchange for absolute freedom for Israel in Egypt and the Arab world.

The third assumption is that the Iranian-Syrian alliance will act as a rival to the Egyptian-Saudi-Israeli alliance. If the latter supports the Zionist project, than the Iranian-Syrian alliance has chosen to support the Palestinian and Lebanese resistance against Israel. It was expected that the Egyptian-Iranian estrangement would continue as relations between Egypt and Saudi Arabia strengthened. Shiite forces would also strengthen in the region and in the Gulf. Shiite power in the Gulf began to develop during the Iran-Iraq war and was bolstered by the US-led invasion on Iraq which played on sectarian divisions.

Egypt’s January 25th revolution’s outcomes were no better than the Islamic Revolution’s in Iran. The Iranian-Syrian alliance tried to benefit from the Egyptian revolution as Iran saw it as an extension of its own Islamic Revolution. Whilst, the US-Israeli-Gulf alliance tried to encourage Egypt to return the way it was prior to the revolution. In the meantime, a president, with an Islamic ideology was elected. This unexpected turn of events proved to be catastrophic for the already sensitive situation. It was of course expected that a strategy would be developed to return Egypt to its previous state, particularly after two years of blunders and the military council’s inability to restore the country or for it to rise to the ranks of democratic nations. The fight in Egypt is a fight for victory and not simply a fight between the forces on the ground.

The Syrian tragedy has changed the strategic situation and had a terrible impact on the military camps. Israel and its allies were eager to eliminate Syria due to its vast regional power, particularly after the loss of Iraq to Shiite forces, Iranian power and the Syrian-Iranian alliance, alongside the increasingly complex situation in Lebanon. Those events also exposed Russia’s new, decisive role in the region.

The fourth assumption focuses on the Israeli-US alliance, which is reviewing its current strategies. Washington wants flexible movement without breaking its commitment to Israel’s interests. To deal with this, Washington has put forward three conjectures. The first is that U.S. interests in the Gulf could be solved via an Iranian and Israeli understanding. This could happen if Iran took a more flexible stance on its nuclear weapons, the Syrian issue and the Palestinian cause. Iran’s revolution would be recognised and Western defensiveness towards Iran would be completely abandoned. This would also reduce the shiite-sunni sectarian conflict in Lebanon, Bahrain, Iran and Saudi Arabia. A conflict that has been fueled by Washington and Israel after they successfully managed this in in Iraq, Lebanon and Syria. Iraq and Syria would no longer be considered strategic Arab powers and Israel would be able to attack Palestine and Hezbollah would fall Iran’s protection.

The fifth assumption is that a broad understanding between Iran, Russia and Washington would develop. This assumption which appeared suddenly and without warning has caused much confusion for US-Saudi relations, as well as having cast a negative shadow over Israeli-American relations.

It seems that these assumptions will re-draw the political maps within the Arab region. However, they will also ensure American interests in the Arab world and in the Gulf by supporting reconciliation between Russia and Iran. They will meet the interests of the Gulf and give Iran a role maintaining U.S. interests. The new distribution of power within the region will allow Israel to develop broad relations with the Gulf and Egypt, Egyptian-Iranian relations will resume and Iranian-Israeli relations will be established allowing them become the two major powers of the region.

In this new scenario, the reasons behind disturbing the Egyptian-American relations, US-Saudi relations, the Iranian-American and the shifts in Turkish-American relations are understandable. Israel will be safe from any Iranian threat, after they successfully transform Egypt into a country on the brink of failure, so that it neither causes benefit or harm.

This scenario is just a reading of the scene according to evidence. However, new powers could arise that would affect the way alliances form. The most important factor influencing this is the possibility of a national reconciliation in Egypt. Egypt could recover its economic and political stance and become the main player in the region. Although this will not happen by simply willing it to, this may be the beginning of the drawing of a new map of the Arab region. Although Israel is capable of damaging its relations with Iran, if that were to happen it would clash with the strategic interests of both Washington and Israel.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.