Foreign relations of Egypt

Foreign relations of Egypt

Egypt's foreign policy operates along a non-aligned level. Factors such as population size, historical events, military strength, diplomatic expertise and a strategic geographical position give Egypt extensive political influence in the Middle East, Africa, and within the Non-Aligned Movement as a whole. Cairo has been a crossroads of Arab commerce and culture for millennia, and its intellectual and Islamic institutions are at the center of the region's social and cultural development.

Relations with the European Union

European Union relations with Egypt are based on a partnership relation within the Euro – Mediterranean and Middle East area, which is of vital strategic importance and a key external relations priority for the EU.
The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership launched at the 1995 Barcelona Conference between the European Union and its originally 12 Mediterranean Partners: Algeria, Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Malta, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, and the Palestinian Authority. Libya currently has observer status at certain meetings. Since the enlargement, in May 2004 and January 2007, the co-operation covers 35 countries, the EU of 27, including Cyprus and Malta and the 10 Mediterranean Partners.

Egypt has also taken an active role regarding Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, such as its participation in the technical meeting of which it was the speaker for the Arab group. Additionally, the first meeting of the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary assembly was co-chaired by an Egyptian.

Egypt has been one of the leading recipients among the Mediterranean partners in terms of total funds received from the MEDA programme, the principal financial instrument of the European Union for the implementation of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. It is focused on policy-led, national structural reform and liberalisation programmes with a sector-wide approach.

The EU is Egypt’s biggest trading partner currently accounting for 42% of Egyptian exports and 37% of imports, with the balance of trade still in the EU's favour. Trade between the EU and Egypt has risen by more than 5% in the last five years to reach around 11.6 billion euro in 2004. Egypt’s main exports to the EU in 2004 were energy (39%), textiles and clothing (15%), agricultural products (9%), and chemicals (5%). Major imports from the EU were power generating machinery (21%), chemicals (16%), transport equipment (16%), and food and agricultural products (10%). Egypt has a serious but improving trade deficit that has put considerable pressure on the Egyptian Pound.

Trade relations with the EU are good although there are several outstanding trade and phyto-sanitary issues. These range from specific market access issues and difficulties for businesses facing a highly regulated and complex system through to restrictions in the export of agricultural goods (potatoes) and fishery products because they do not conform with EU quality norms.

Relations in the Middle East

Arab relations

The Arab League headquarters is in Cairo, and the Secretary General of the League is traditionally an Egyptian. Former Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa is the present Secretary General of the Arab League. Egyptian Deputy Prime Minister Boutros Boutros-Ghali served as Secretary General of the United Nations from 1991 to 1996.

Egypt is on good terms with Libya and Sudan, its African neighbo

rs, although it has a land dispute with Sudan over the Hala'ib Triangle, a small area of land on the Egypt-Sudan border on the Red Sea coast. Sudan claims the area, although the Egyptian military currently occupies it. Egypt's policy on Sudan is that it is in favor of a united Sudan. As such Egypt was not directly involved in the Sudan Peace Process that was hosted in Kenya under the auspices of IGAD and that gave the peoples of south Sudan the right to secede and form an independent state in 2001 after the long and brutal Sudanese civil war that cumulatively lasted more than 40 years.

Relations with Israel

Being a pioneer of peace making in the region and driven from its belief that a peaceful Middle East is the best solution for the development of Egypt, the third Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's groundbreaking trip to Israel in 1977, the 1978 Camp David Accords, and the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty represented a fundamental shift in the politics of the region; from a strategy of confrontation to one of peace as a strategic choice. Egypt was subsequently ostracized by other Arab states and ejected from the Arab League from 1979 to 1989.

However, due to circumstances of today's Israeli-Palestinian conflict, full normalization of relations between these two countries is still halted and sometimes fought against in both countries. The Egyptian ambassador to Tel Aviv is often withdrawn, and the peace has been called a cool peace due to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Egypt is a key partner in the search for peace in the Middle East and resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Egypt played an important role in the negotiations leading to the Madrid Peace Conference in 1991, which, under United States and Russian sponsorship, brought together all parties in the region to discuss Middle East peace.

This support has continued to the present, with President Hosni Mubarak often intervening personally to promote peace negotiations. In 1996, he hosted the Sharm El-Sheikh "Summit of the Peacemakers" attended by President Bill Clinton and other world leaders.

In 2000, he hosted two summits at Sharm El-Sheikh and one at Taba in an effort to resume the Camp David negotiations suspended in July 2000, and in June 2003, Mubarak hosted President George W. Bush for another summit on Middle East peace process. Another summit was convened in Sharm El Sheik in early 2005, which was attended by Egypt, Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan. The Egyptian Chief of Intelligence, General Omar Suleiman, has played a substantial role in negotiations between the Israeli and Palestinian sides and is highly respected on both sides.

Relations with Iran

"See:" Foreign relations of Iran#Egypt (different wording)

Since Islamic Revolution, Egypt's diplomatic relations with Iran have mostly been strained, contentious issues include Egypt's support for Iraq in Iran's eight-year conflict, the Islamic Republic's hailing of Khalid Islambouli, the late President Anwar Sadat's assassin as a religious hero (seeing as there was both a street and mural named after him), and close Egyptian relations with the United States, most of the Western World countries, and Israel. However as of 2007, relations between the two have thawed in the fields of diplomacy and economic trade.

Relations with the United States

After the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, Egyptian foreign policy began to shift as a result of the change in Egypt's leadership from President Gamal Abdel-Nasser to Anwar Sadat and the emerging peace process between Egypt and Israel. Sadat realized that reaching a settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict is a precondition for Egyptian development. To achieve this goal, Sadat ventured to enhance US-Egyptian relations to foster a peace process with Israel.

Military cooperation

Between 1979 and 2003, the US has provided Egypt with about $30 billion in military aid, making Egypt the second largest recipient of US military aid after Israel. Also, Egypt received about $30 billion in economic aid within the same time frame.

Military cooperation between the US and Egypt is probably the strongest aspect of their strategic partnership. General Anthony Zinni, the former Commandant of the US Central Command (CENTCOM), once said, "Egypt is the most important country in my area of responsibility because of the access it gives me to the region." Egypt was also described during the Clinton Administration as the most prominent player in the Arab world and a key US ally in the Middle East. US military assistance to Egypt was considered part of the administration's strategy to maintaining continued availability of Persian Gulf energy resources and to secure the Suez Canal, which serves both as an important international oil route and as critical route for US warships transiting to the Gulf.

The Egyptian military provides indirect support for the foreign policy of Egypt in the region. Egypt is the strongest military power on the African continent, and according to Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies' annual Middle East Strategic Balance the second largest in the Middle East, after Israel.

War on terrorism

Despite differences and periods of friction in relations between the two countries, the US-Egyptian relations under Mubarak have evolved moving beyond the Middle East peace process towards an independent bilateral friendship. It was in the US interest that Egypt was able to present moderate voice in Arab councils and persuade other Arab states to join the peace process and to normalize their relations with the US.

However lately Egyptian-American relations have become a little tense. This is due to a great extent to the Egyptian unwillingness to send troops to Afghanistan and Iraq in peace stabilization missions. Egypt strongly backed the US in its war against international terrorism after 11 September attacks, but refused to send troops to Afghanistan neither during the war nor after it. Egypt also opposed US military intervention of March 2003 in Iraq, continued to oppose US occupation of the country after the war and further refused to comply with US requests to send troops to the country even under a UN umbrella.

The issue of participation in the post-war construction efforts in Iraq has been controversial in Egypt and in the Arab world as a whole. Opponents say that the war was illegal and it is necessary to wait until Iraq has legal representative government to deal with it. On the other hand supporters of participation argued that the responsibility to protect Iraqis and to help them in time of crisis should prevail and guide the Egyptian action in Iraq, despite the fact that the Iraqis do not agree.

Islamic Republic of Pakistan

Pakistan and Egypt, both being Muslim countries, share cordial relations. Both are also members of the OIC (Oraganization of Islamic Conference), as well as "the next eleven" and "D8".

International involvement

Egypt played a key role during the 1990-91 Gulf crisis. President Mubarak helped assemble the international coalition and deployed 35,000 Egyptian troops against Iraq to liberate Kuwait. The Egyptian contingent was one of the largest in the coalition forces, along with the U.S., U.K. and Saudi Arabia.

In the aftermath of the Gulf war, Egypt signed the Damascus declaration with Syria and the Gulf states to strengthen Gulf security. Egypt continues to contribute regularly to United Nations peacekeeping missions, most recently in East Timor, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.
Following the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Egypt, which has itself been the target of terrorist attacks, has been a key supporter of the U.S. war against terrorists and terrorist organizations such as Osama bin Ladin and al-Qaeda, and has supported the Iraqi Governing Council.

On December 25, 2006, the Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit called for end to "nuclear double standards" where sanctions are imposed on Iran for enriching uranium, but the Israeli nuclear program is not subject to any control by the International Atomic Energy Agency. []


See also

* Egyptian diplomatic missions
* List of Foreign ministers of Egypt
* Iran-Arab Relations (Egypt)
* List of Ambassadors from Egypt
* List of diplomatic missions in Egypt

External links

* [;_ylu=X3oDMTE2MWFla2V2BGNvbG8DZQRsA1dTMQRwb3MDMgRzZWMDc3IEdnRpZANERlg1XzMw/SIG=12c9c732e/EXP=1135384084/**http%3a// EU-Egyptian Relations]
* [;_ylu=X3oDMTE2anNnbmViBGNvbG8DZQRsA1dTMQRwb3MDNgRzZWMDc3IEdnRpZANERlg1XzMw/SIG=12er3jl9e/EXP=1135385348/**http%3a// Assessing the United States-Egyptian Military and Security Relations]
* [;_ylu=X3oDMTE3dHZsZGltBGNvbG8DdwRsA1dTMQRwb3MDMTYEc2VjA3NyBHZ0aWQDREZYNV8zMA--/SIG=12tr1k1a8/EXP=1135385972/**http%3a// The Future of American-Egyptian relations]
* [ Deniers of Egypt's dark past] An article exploring Egypt's Africanness

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