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News Analysis: Egypt to improve foreign ties after rejoining African Union: analysts

English.news.cn   2014-06-20 02:35:44

by Mohamed Hassan, Marwa Yahya

CAIRO, June 19 (Xinhua) -- The recent decision of the African Union (AU) to allow Egypt to rejoin the 54-member body after nearly a year of suspension will boost the country's foreign ties, especially with Western powers, analysts said.

The African Peace and Security Council decided to reinstate Egypt's activities within the AU during its meeting held in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, late Tuesday. The pan-African bloc froze Egypt's AU membership after the military ousted its former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's first freely-elected president, last July over mass protests against his one-year rule and his Muslim Brotherhood group.

Almost a year later, former Egyptian military chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was elected president in early June after his landslide victory over his sole leftist rival in the late-May presidential election.

"Egypt has been facing mounting pressure from the United States and European countries since Morsi's removal, but the AU decision will enhance the Egyptian stance and its ties with African states as well as with the West," said Hani al-Gamal, director of Kenana Center for Political and Strategic Studies.

He said that Egypt's return to the AU will help the Egypt-U.S. relations become warmer in military, political and economic fields after deterioration.

Since a 1979 peace treaty with Israel, Egypt has been one of the closest allies of the United States in the Middle East. But their bilateral ties have been strained since Morsi' removal.

The Obama administration has recently decided to release a partial suspension of aid by delivering 10 Apache attack helicopters and 650 million U.S. dollars in aid to Egypt. U.S. President Barack Obama also pledged to work with Sisi to advance the "shared interests" of both countries just days after Sisi's inauguration.

Former AU Assistant Secretary General Ahmed Haggag agreed that Egypt's comeback to the organization will push the United States to invite Egypt to the first U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit to be held in Washington in August. The veteran diplomat added that the AU decision in general will help Egypt to restore "its leading role inside the African body."

An official report said that Sisi, accompanied by a high- profile delegation, will attend the summit, while Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri will soon head to Equatorial Guinea to attend the preparation meetings for the upcoming AU summit slated for June 26 and 27.

"Resuming Egypt's AU membership gives Sisi the opportunity to attend the African summit to be held in Guinea later this month," the diplomat told Xinhua.

Amani al-Tawil, head of the African department at Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, said the AU decision will also pave the way for defusing the crisis between Egypt and Ethiopia over the constriction of the controversial Renaissance Dam, which was established by Ethiopia and is likely to affect Egypt's share of the River Nile water.

"By attending the next Africa summit, Sisi could have a face-to- face meeting with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn to discuss the dam problem," she said.

Ethiopia has welcomed Egypt's return to the African bloc. Its Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom has previously handed an invitation from Desalegn to Sisi for visiting Ethiopia, according to state-run Ahram news website.

Experts say that the officials from both countries now sound more optimistic regarding the issue of the dam.

Editor: Mu Xuequan
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