The Egyptian President’s New Foreign Policy
Egypt’s new president, for the first time since taking office, is headed to the US. But, President Morsi, unlike his predecessor Mubarak, has included the will of his people in Egypt’s future foreign policy.
For decades, Egypt’s dictators had been useful negotiation partners for the West. Their foreign policy decisions took only little account of what the people of Egypt wanted. A large part of the policies of ousted leader, Hosni Mubarak, was geared toward enriching a small group of the regime’s elite.
But the people have hardly benefited from that, says Osama Nour El-Din, a political scientist with the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice party. “Under Mubarak, we blindly followed the United States. But now, that’s different,” he says. Now, the country’s foreign policy was serving both sides. “We want Egyptians to see the results of Egyptian foreign policy.”
Most Egyptians critical of the US
President Morsi seeks to strike a balance between old and new allies
This new focus will lead to significant changes in Egypt’s relations with the US, Israel and also Europe. The recent demonstrations outside the US embassy in Cairo were just a first taste of this. The trigger was an anti-Islam video, but the protests might have found fewer supporters had the country been on better terms with Washington.
According to a current poll of the renowned Pew Research Institute, around 79 percent of Egyptians do not like the US because of the countless dead in Iraq and Afghanistan, because of the unconditional support for Israel, because of Washington’s past cooperation with Mubarak and because of the US detention camp at Guantanamo Bay.
Unlike Mubarak, Egypt’s new president, Mohamed Morsi, can no longer simply ignore the will of the people; after all, he has to win elections. But, despite the anti-US sentiments in the country, the economic situation forbids him to break with the US. Since the protests, the ties between Cairo and Washington have already cooled down significantly. Just recently, US President Barack Obama described Egypt only as an ally and termed relations merely as “neutral.”