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Arab Spring: Will Egypt Surprise the US By Getting Closer to BRICS & Iran?


Egypt’s new President will first visit China and Iran – and not Yumm-Rika. US officials worried?

John Bull's dreams were rudely shattered by Nasser. John Tenniel cartoon in Punch, after the Fashoda (1898) Incident between France & Britain, which was resolved diplomatically.  France agreed to British supremacy over Egypt. Nasser blew away British dreams of continued imperialism.

John Bull’s dreams were rudely shattered by Nasser. John Tenniel cartoon in Punch, after the Fashoda (1898) Incident between France & Britain, which was resolved diplomatically. France agreed to British supremacy over Egypt. Nasser blew away British dreams of continued imperialism.

Election Time

After tumultuous elections, coloured by scandals of imported pens from India, a new government is finally in place in Egypt.

But not before US NGOs, behind the Arab Spring protests, and subsequently trying to influence elections were exposed, disgraced and sent back home.

Post Nasser Egypt had neither the respect of the Islamic world or the Emerging Economies countries. Mubarak’s Egypt was fully paid-up member of US Kowtowing Club | Cartoon by Bryant Arnold Published: 10-Feb-11 by cartoonaday.com

Post Nasser Egypt had neither the respect of the Islamic world or the Emerging Economies countries. Mubarak’s Egypt was fully paid-up member of US Kowtowing Club | Cartoon by Bryant Arnold Published: 10-Feb-11 by cartoonaday.com

The new government headed by Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsy is probably deriving some lessons from Egypt’s Nasserite past.

Up the Nile

After all, it was under Nasser that Egypt threw the British, French and Israeli invaders back into the sea – and the desert.

Nasser, with Nehru,  Tito and Sukarno were also significant forces in global diplomacy which challenged the Western grip on global power equations – a first in 200 years.

Any new regime’s first visit is usually a diplomatic signal of direction – and Morsy’s forthcoming visits are ominous signs for the US.

Will Egypt's future be an amalgam of Iranian Independent Islamism and China's aggressive economic growth model?  |  Cartoon title Egypt's Future by Mike Keefe on 02/03/2011; courtesy - intoon.com

Will Egypt’s future be an amalgam of Iranian Independent Islamism and China’s aggressive economic growth model? | Cartoon title Egypt’s Future by Mike Keefe on 02/03/2011; courtesy – intoon.com

Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsy is heading for China and Iran — a path-breaking visit that is unlikely to please the United States, which has gone overboard to cultivate relationship with the new leadership in Cairo.

Mr. Morsy will land in Beijing on Monday, before heading for Tehran to attend the summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) there. This will be the first visit by an Egyptian President to Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The importance of the visit has not been lost on the Iranians.

“Since long time ago, Egypt and Iran as two big Muslim countries have had close ties and played key roles in the Islamic civilisation,” observed Ali Larijani, the Speaker of Majlis, Iran’s Parliament.

Iran-Egypt relationship had greatly soured during the regime of the former President, Hosni Mubarak — evident from the absence of embassies in their respective capitals.

Analysts point out that the region’s geopolitical map may fundamentally realign if the Egyptian President’s visit to Tehran leads to a robust re-engagement between the two heavyweights. Prior to Mr. Mubarak’s exit, Iran, Syria and Lebanese Hizbollah had been facing-off with a pro-West alliance of Egypt and the Gulf monarchies led by Saudi Arabia. The sharp antagonistic divisions among the Arab and Muslim countries of the region had also well suited Israel, which, since the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, has not been threatened by a united front of regional countries.

Behind the scenes

There has been considerable behind-the-scenes preparation for Mr. Morsy’s visit. Last week, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Mr. Morsy confabulated effusively in Makkah on the sidelines of the emergency summit of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

Breaking ranks

While still in Makkah, Mr. Morsy broke ranks with host Saudi Arabia and Qatar by proposing a “contact group” on Syria, formed by a coalition of Tehran, Cairo, Ankara and Riyadh. Iran immediately welcomed the Egyptian proposal, with Iranian foreign policy spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast praising the initiative as the means “to review and follow up on [regional] issues so that peace would be established in the region as soon as possible and tensions would ease”.

New ties

A senior official from the Muslim Brotherhood said on condition of anonymity that the new Egyptian leadership was seeking a deeper engagement with the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) grouping, and Mr. Morsy’s visit to Beijing at the invitation of his counterpart, Hu Jintao, was a step in that direction. The Syrian situation as well as the Palestinian question is likely to feature prominently during Mr. Morsy’s stay. Commercial exchanges as well as opening the floodgates for Chinese investments in post-Mubarak Egypt would be another possible focal area of discussions.

U.S. efforts

Observers point out that the two visits follow a feverish effort by the Obama administration to woo the Muslim Brothers. Within the space of one month since Mr. Morsy was elected President, three top Obama administration officials have called on the new Egyptian President in Cairo.

These include Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, whose visit was followed by a trip to Cairo by his boss, Hillary Clinton. Also in the queue shortly afterwards was Defence Secretary Leon Panetta, who was well positioned to engage Egypt’s civilian as well as military leadership. However, Mr. Morsy surprised all when he purged the Mubarak era military top brass, headed by Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawi, the Defence Minister.

via The Hindu : News / International : Morsy on path-breaking visit to China, Iran.

Mohammed Morsy. Photo date: August 21, 2012; courtesy: thehindu.com; source: AP

Mohammed Morsy. Photo date: August 21, 2012; courtesy: thehindu.com; source: AP

Big Cheese

For Morsy, the important issue will be to have a more substantive foreign and economic policy – beyond making futile, anti-US gestures.

Nasser’s biggest failing – and Nehru’s biggest success, was precisely this. While Egypt floundered, the direction in India was clear.

Egypt and India were in roughly the same boat after WWII. Poor, unstable, recently decolonized, without an industrial base, a backward military force, an antagonistic neighbour funded and controlled by the West, low literacy levels, food insecurity – the entire gamut.

Has Egypt found direction? Again! | Cartoon by by Clay Bennett on Tuesday, February 1st, 2011; source & courtesy – timesfreepress.com

Has Egypt found direction? Again! | Cartoon by by Clay Bennett on Tuesday, February 1st, 2011; source & courtesy – timesfreepress.com

For a Few Billions More

Post-Sadat Egypt has mortgaged its independence to US policy for a few billion dollars in aid. Mubarak’s wealth was estimated in billions between US$10 billion to US$60 billion.

Morsy’s Egypt is a difficult place. Will Morsy’s independence take Egypt out of a fundamentalist orbit of Saudi Wahabbism into a Indo-Chinese politico-economic development idiom?

God knows, Egypt needs that.


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  1. August 21, 2012 at 6:58 pm

  1. September 16, 2012 at 7:20 am

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