Ambassador Mohamed El-Orabi’s Lecture on “Strategic Situations in the Middle East Region”
The Council hosted on January 5th , 2020, a lecture by Ambassador Mohamed El-Orabi, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, to discuss “the developments of strategic situations in the Middle East region,” with the participation of Ambassador Dr. Mounir Zahran, Chairman of the Council, and its Director, Ambassador Dr. Ezzat Saad, in addition to a number of experts and academics from among the council members.
During addressing the developments of the situation in the region, Ambassador El-Orabi stressed that there is a mutual influence between viewing local situations and the rapid developments taking place in the region, within the limits of the national obligations of states. Moreover, there is a clear link between international strategies and some countries in the region with respect to the implementation of such strategies, and this led to increasing the appetite of some regional states to interfere in the affairs of the countries of the region, which led to the prolongation of the chronic problems that plagued the region in Libya, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Some of the main regional states in the region have also developed their tools and exploited all available strategic vacuums in order to control the situations in the region. In this regard, the role of the influential states (Turkey, Iran, Israel, and Ethiopia) can be emphasized, as each one of them possesses its own scope and tools, and has become a strategic burden to the region.
As for the Egyptian strategy with respect to dealing with these challenges, he emphasized the existence of determinants of the Egyptian position based on not compromising the principle of unity and cohesion of every Arab country, under the leadership of a central government, and refusing regional and international interference in the internal affairs of states, as well as the importance of respecting the right to expression of opinion without prejudice to the entity and institutions of the state. He added that the desires for change must be sought through peaceful movements and national consensus, emphasizing the importance of preserving national armies, as they are an essential element for defending the borders of the state and maintaining its cohesion, but not to use that power against the peoples. Moreover, he laid emphasis on development as an essential foundation for the elimination of any environment that may contribute to the exploitation of the complex economic and social conditions of societies by terrorism, as well as not to align with one party at the expense of the other due to ideological or sectarian basis, but to believe in the single fabric of each country, and uphold national constants without exclusion, except for those who practice violence and terrorism, also stressing the importance of touching the desires for community cohesion, calling for stability and unity of the national fabric, according to mechanisms that respect constitutional legitimacy; as the process of legislation and making constitutional laws originates from within, and not by the effect of an external influencer, provided that this precedes the establishment of a stable and solid state.
He also pointed out that Egypt has presented a model that has managed to win the trust and attention of international parties. It has also developed sudden, surprising, and more powerful strategic axes that match its moral political constants. Egypt has not abandoned the Arab and African dimensions as the basis for its strategic vision, which holds a firm foundation for progress and development, through the establishment of successful social and cultural communication, despite the obstacles set, the role of soft power in that framework had a commendable effect; and through the common vision of the necessity of keeping the forces of political Islam away from the scene, as well as working towards protecting the image of moderate Islam in its true form, Egypt has contributed to an attempt of unifying a religious discourse calling for peace and acceptance of the other.
He concluded his speech by drafting his forward-looking vision for developments in the region, where he noted the following:
– The year 2020 to 2021 shall witness structural and political transformations within the European Union, which could make it very weak in dealing with Arab issues.
– The forces of terrorism will rebuild their entities and gather in new areas, perhaps in the countries of the Sahel and Sahara (Chad – Niger – Mali), and this new African belt that begins from Somalia and ends in Nigeria will constitute a strategic burden on Egypt.
– Chronic issues in the region are expected to run for longer terms.
– Turkish infiltration may increase in intensity, directing its arrows against Egypt and seeking to support the forces of the Muslim Brotherhood and its other supporting forces in the region.
– The importance of supporting the Arab Safety Net, which began with the countries of the Arab Mashreq (Jordan – Iraq) to run parallel with the Egypt-Gulf relations.
– Egypt, during its presidency of the African Union, must set profit and loss accounts with regards to its African relations; especially since Egypt has offered a lot during the past years, specifically in 2019, and the African response was not up to the level of what Egypt has offered. This does not mean, in any way, abandoning Africa. Rather, the stances of others and their impact on Egyptian interests must be taken into account.
– Egypt may take more concrete and forceful steps towards the Renaissance Dam (GERD) dossier.
– The importance of reaching a formulation that would be consistent with the Egyptian pillars and national security in the Red Sea, especially with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
– There may be a unified media formulation that refutes the allegations of the opposing voices and those lying in ambush, with more flexible methods of responding to them.
– Maintaining strong bilateral relations with each EU country, building on the strategic leap that took place with Greece and Cyprus.
– The importance of linking the interests of major international companies to Egypt’s vital economic field as a guarantee of development and stability.