As the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain initiate diplomatic relations with Israel, with the implicit blessing of Saudi Arabia, enormous strategic changes are on the horizon. We can think of them as coups, because after being a regional leader and inspiration for centuries, Egypt will henceforth be compelled to play a marginal role. Our country has been usurped.
Throughout the years of confrontation with Israel, Egypt was the main player in determining Arab responses, despite its disagreements with one or other of its neighbours. This is no longer the case. Incredibly, Israel now aspires to replace Egypt and lead the Arab region based on the new equations that will bring down all the institutions for joint Arab action, foremost among them the Arab League. All that has made up the Arab political and cultural mindset, such as the ambitious independence of national decision-making, models for joint development and moves to regain past glories will simply pass into legend. In the meantime, the Palestinian issue, which is supposed to be the Arabs' central cause, will take a back seat, with the plight of the Palestinian refugees in their "host" countries being "settled". Those who still live within occupied Palestine will obtain a "quasi-state" that is dominated from A to Z by Israel.
The entire Arab national security system, with all of its military, political and economic dimensions, will be dismantled. Arab rhetoric about freedom, unity and independent development will be ossified and put into storage. Israeli and American plans are ready to build an alliance between Gulf petrodollars and Israeli technology to confront Iran and frustrate its ambitions. This anticipates the arrival of the Saudi Arabian train in the normalisation station driven by Mohammad Bin Salman once he replaces his father on the throne. King Salman is reported by the Western media to be opposed to any peace with Israel before the Palestinians have their promised state.
There are many questions which need answers in this regard, such as how the authorities in Egypt will deal with the ready-made plans for our region and what our role will be in these scenarios, and when confronting Israel. Not far away from this need to be found answers to questions about the relationship between our economic crises, living conditions and mounting foreign debts, and how they will affect Egypt's foreign policy. Moreover, to what degree will the Suez Canal be affected by the project to get Saudi oil to Western markets through a pipeline extending to the Israeli port of Ashkelon, from where it will be taken by sea to the buyers?
There is also the question relating to our cultural prestige in the Arab milieu. And then there is our dispute with Addis Ababa regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, a crisis that's likely to escalate further. There is also the question of whether we may regain our vital sphere of influence in Sudan, Libya and the rest of the Arab Maghreb after losing out completely to the east of Suez.
We stand at the threshold of deadly threats of a kind we have probably never faced before throughout our entire history. They demand from us new policies and the rearrangement of our domestic situation before the flood of change sweeps us away.
Translated from Shorouknews, 21 September 2020
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.