Yesterday, the lead op-ed in Al-Quds Al-Arabi’s savaged Egyptian foreign policy, in particular the recent comments of Foreign Minister Ahmed Abu Al-Ghait.
This is a big theme that (American) people need to be aware of: Egypt’s role as a regional power has seriously declined. Why is this? The vast majority of the analysts in the Arabic press blame it on its blind support of the US. Ie its too close to the US. This is something to keep in mind when we talk about repairing US-Arab or US-Islamic relations: Most in the region, especially Egypt, are calling for their governments to distance themselves from the US, not necessarily to develop closer relations.
Here’s my paraphrased summary:
Recently, the Egyptian government has escalated its campaign against Iran. Just yesterday, FH Abu Ghait accused the Iranians of trying to control the Middle East by trying to exploit the Palestinian cause. According to the FM, the Iranians talk about the Palestine cause but do nothing of note to actually help it.
Abu Ghait’s anger illustrates two points:
1) The rise of Iranian power which coincides with the decline of Egyptian
2) Iranian support for the Palestinian resistance vs Egypt’s new role as an extension of US foreign policy
“Iran controls the Middle East because Egypt withdrew from it… Under previous Egyptian governments, Egypt invested millions of dollars and sacrified its best and brightest (ie people that died in Arab-Israeli wars) in support of the Palestinian cause and in order to strengthen its regional position. But the current government has wasted all of these investments in its blind pursuit of US policy and a fraudulent peace which benefits the Egyptians first and foremost.
Iran is not to blame for this situation. Its the Arab governments, with Egypt in particular who work hand in with the Israelis and US. And the FM is wrong when he says that Iran presents only empty propaganda to the Israelis. The great 2006 victory vs Israeli aggression wouldn’t have been possible without the aid of Iranian rockets.
When Egypt returns to its role as protector of Arab interestes, and distances itself from blind support of US and Israeli policy, and actually helps its Arab brothers defend against Israeli agression, then Iran will no longer control the Middle East.
For some context, Al-Quds Al-Arabi is virulently anti-US foreign policy, so one is unlikely to find this kind of harshness in Asharq Al-Awsat or even Al-Hayat (all three being London based regional papers) . However, the sentiment expressed here in widely felt in Egypt. Fahmy Huwedi, Egypt’s most respected commentator, repeats this theme constantly in his 6 or 7 weekly columns in Cairo’s Al-Dostor newspaper. I would add that the Egyptian street would strongly agreed with this analysis from Al-Quds.