National Security Issues in Egypt’s Foreign Policy, the Military, Political and Economic Dimensions
On the 24th of October 2017, the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs (ECFA) organized a Symposium titled “National Security Dimensions in Egypt’s Foreign Policy”, in which the ECFA Board Members delivered speeches, including: Staff Major General Hisham El-Halaby, H.E. Ambassador Marawan Badre, and H.E. Ambassador Muhammad El-Shazly, with the participation of H.E. Ambassador Dr. Mounier Zahran, ECFA Chairman, H.E. Ambassador Dr. Ezzat Saad, the Executive Director, and a number of Board Members.
During the Symposium, three main themes were discussed, namely:
– Military Dimension in Egypt’s Foreign Policy;
– Political Dimension in Egypt’s Foreign Policy;
– Economic and Developmental Dimension of Egypt’s Foreign Policy.
On the Military Dimension, ECFA Board Member Staff Major General Hisham Halabi, addressed two main themes in his speech:
– Some historical examples of the Armed Forces Role in Foreign Policy.
– Features of the current Armed Forces’ Role in Foreign Policy and the factors that are common to both Military and Diplomatic aspects in shaping Foreign Policy.
He concluded by stressing the fact that Military and Diplomacy are two sides of a single coin, and that both sides should have a cumulative understanding of each others, recommending that 1973 War Case Study be taught to present generations.
On the Political Dimension, Ambassador Muhammad Abdul-Moneim El-Shazly spoke and stressed that National Security is a broad concept that encompasses protecting the State against dangers that threaten its safety and preserving its basic tenets, the most important of which are:
– Unity and integrity of its territories and national soil; cohesion of its social fabric, unity of its people and cohesion of its internal front; preservation of its economic interests in a way that enables it to sustain its economic growth, and thus allow for achieving prosperity and stability; preserving the ethics, beliefs, civilizational norms and life-style of its people; maintaining regional security, especially in neighbouring States; creating a regional atmosphere that ensures security and stability in the country; and contributing to the formation of an international system that is supportive of and harmonious with the State’s objectives.
He also stressed the need for all State’s circles, official and popular, to be involved in achieving national security, adding that there are six circles that are pioneers in this regard, namely: Economy, Armed Forces, Media, Culture, Arts, Scientific Research and Diplomacy).
As for Economic/Developmental Dimension, H.E. Ambassador Marawan Badre explained, in his speech, that basically the funding for any State’s economic development projects is to rely on their own resources, and in case these resources were inadequate, the alternative would be resorting to the international community, where funding such projects allows for aiding the Development process. He noted that there is a number of recognized mechanisms through which funding could be provided, including:
– Bilateral relations with States;
– Financing Institutions (Arab: Arab Monetary Fund, Regional: African Development Bank and Islamic Development Bank; or International: International Monetary Fund and World Bank).
Adding that there is another mechanism manifested in some International Groups that provide funding for some Developing States, or to certain geographical regions, such as the European Union within the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership framework.
The presentations were followed by a number of interventions by the audience, as follows:
– In his intervention, ECFA Executive Director, H.E. Ambassador Dr. Ezzat Saad, explained that the three presentations were complementing each other, noting that he could summarize his remarks as follows:
Using or threatening to use Military Force is part of any State’s Supreme Policy, and a tool of its Foreign Policy or Strategy, that has components such as Economy, Culture, and Education… etc. He noted that historically, the term “Strategy” has had a military inference, being equated to Armed Forces Plans, and has evolved to become a “National Security Strategy”. The traditional concept of “National Security” leads us to think along the lines of “Military Force”, hence the existence of an intersection between connotations of National Security and Military Force at the theoretical level.
– For his part, ECFA Member, H.E. Ambassador Reda Shehata, pointed out that setting transparency limits in relation to National Security events and threats, necessarily affects the extent of support or endorsement received, especially in times of crises and balancing sources of threat to National Security with requirements for offering support and endorsements to the political leadership.
– Commenting on what H.E. Ambassador Reda said regarding the institutions forming Foreign Policy, ECFA Board Member, H.E. Ambassador Adel El-Saloussy, noted that in Democratic and European States, Parliament Institutions, always have a large and decisive role, and the parliament is one of the three main pillars of Foreign Policy Making.
– For her part, ECFA Board Member, H.E. Ambassador Hajer El-Islambouly, noted that she was not aware of many aspects included in the three presentations, especially what H.E. Ambassador Marawan’s remarks on development aspects, in which he highlighted that a particular decision was taken in a certain way, against Organizations, which led to halting the possibility of benefiting from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), while other Arab States have benefited from it.