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News Analysis: Sisi expected to restructure Egypt's foreign policy: experts

English.news.cn   2014-06-07 04:59:59

by Mahmoud Fouly

CAIRO, June 5 (Xinhua) -- Egypt's newly elected President Abdel- Fattah al-Sisi is expected to restructure the country's foreign policy with international and regional powers, leaning more towards the East and counting more on Gulf States in the first phase of his presidential term, say Egyptian experts.

Ex-military chief Sisi was officially announced as Egypt's president-elect on Tuesday evening by garnering about 97 percent of votes in the first presidential elections since he led the ouster of former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in response to mass protests.

The new president is expected to focus more on Egypt's relations with Eastern powers like Russia and China to balance the country's relations with the West, especially the ties with the United States, which have been worsening since Washington rejected Morsi's removal and the declaration of his Muslim Brotherhood group as "a terrorist organization."

"There is a balanced international system now and the United States is no longer the world's sole big power, as Russia and China contribute to creating a multipolar world power," said Gamal Zahran, political science professor at Suez Canal University.

Despite the tense relations and the suspension of 1.3 billion U. S. dollars annual military aid to Egypt due to Morsi's removal, the White House said in a recent statement that "the United States looks forward to working with Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, the winner of Egypt's presidential election, to advance our strategic partnership and many interests shared by the United States and Egypt."

Yet, Washington in the statement expressed concerns about freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and urged Egypt "to ensure these freedoms."

Analysts say the statement reflects the struggle between U.S. interests and principles when dealing with Egypt.

Sisi as well criticized earlier the U.S. support for the Brotherhood but he still said that "Egypt needs the U.S. support to combat terrorism," referring to some pro-Morsi extremist groups that launched a series of deadly anti-government attacks since Morsi's ouster.

Sisi's confidence in the financial and political support of powerful Gulf States like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait is reassuring for him to restructure Egypt's policy with the West.

"Egypt's strong ties with Gulf States will foil the U.S.- led Western imperial aspirations in the Middle East," Zahran said.

Hectic about the spread of the Brotherhood influence to reach their monarchies, the aforementioned three oil-rich Gulf States provided Egypt with about 20 billion dollars of aid over the past 10 months to assist the turmoil-stricken country following Morsi's ouster.

Zahran also added that Egypt's new foreign policies under Sisi will work on facing the triangle of regional powers represented in Iran, Turkey and Israel through coordination with Gulf as well as some African states.

Tarek al-Sinouti, head of diplomatic department at the state- run Al-Ahram Evening daily newspaper, said that Sisi's vision on Egypt's foreign policy will seek to improve the country's image in front of the international community, particularly those countries that did not approve the Islamist president's removal.

"Egypt has partnership with the European Union that is not highly activated on the ground and Washington until today does not label the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization although it did with Sinai-based Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis group," the expert said, noting these facts "bother the Egyptian leadership a lot."

Sinouti argued that when Egypt's image is improved, it is expected to improve the deteriorating foreign investment, restore tourism, and support the new leadership in particular and the Egyptian economy in general.

With regards to Egypt's close ties with powerful Gulf countries, their anticipated financial support to the new Egyptian president will not be restricted to cash aids but also in the form of huge projects that are likely to create job opportunities in Egypt and push it forward towards development.

"Direct funds from the Gulf to Egypt will lead to stability to the Egyptian pound against foreign currencies like the U.S. dollar and will help the Egyptian government to meet its financial obligations and strengthen its position," Sinouti added.

Egypt's presidency has recently invited Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to attend with some other heads of states Sisi's inauguration ceremony as new president.

"The invitation aims at pushing bilateral relations forward and shows Egypt's awareness of the Iranian role in the region, particularly in the Syrian crisis," Sinouti explained.

With attempting to warm ties with Iran, Egypt seeks to secure the interests of its Gulf allies that have issues with Iran and also hopes that the Egyptian-Iranian coordination may help resolving the crisis in Syria, said the expert.

Editor: yan
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