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Jon B Alterman : Dynamics without Drama - New Options and Old Compromises in Egypt`s Foreign Policy

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Political Science
POLI 341
Imad Mansour

Jon B Alterman Dynamics Without Drama New Options and Old Compromises in Egypts Foreign PolicySadats 1977 shift away from Soviet bloc Arab socialism and warfare and toward the United States economic opening and peace made him a global celebrityHowever in the 1990s Egyptian foreign policy became less central and Egypt played a lesser role in the regionThe article seeks to redress some of the neglect by examining the drivers of Egyptian foreign policy in the last two decades and draw from the resultant understanding to evaluate the possible circumstances under which Egyptian foreign policy might change in futureEgypts government has largely sought to manage its relations with the outside world rather than create new realities whereas historicallyits leaders actively sought to shape their international environment Egypt has become a status quo power and in so doing it has given up some of its freedom of actionThe Two Faces of Egypts ArabismStudies on describing the drivers of states strategic policies concentrate on either the decisions of great powers or on fundamentalshifts in the reorientation of regional powers and Egypt does not garner attention in this literatureIR theorists tend to view Egyptian foreign policy as part of system of Arab foreign policy which leads to 2 distoritionsoThis tends to stress the overarching western interest in Arab foreign policy Peace with Israel rather than understand Egyptian FP in its own terms and context This ignores the indirect benefits of Egypts peace with Israel which outweighs the direct benefitsoExplanations of Egyptian FP view it through a static panArab prism as opposed to Barnetts view Arabs collective interests are not selfevident nor is the import of the notion ofArabnessArabness thus is both endlessly negotiated and a tool states use to pursue their own domestic and regional interests and emerges as one of many targets of state action The dialectic between Egypts identity as a leading Arab state and its identity as an independent state in its own right is such a rich lode in Egypts modern historyoEgypt dominated Arab League and Nassers leadership shaped coups and revolutions throughout the Arab worldoEgyptians have generally taken for granted their preeminence in the Arab SystemoRecently Egypt played a role in leading Arab world towards peace with Israel and gave Arab cover for military action against IraqYet Egypts FP represents interests at odds with Arab oEgyptian separate peace with Israel 1979oEgypt exploits relations with Arab world to increase its value to the USCritics view Egypts Arabism as an excuse for policies Egypt would otherwise pursue for its own interests but Egypt appears to view Arabism as a resource
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