Prepared by the researcher – Ahmed Abdelaziem Mahmoud – Pursuing a master degree at the International law – Affiliation: Researcher at Ain Shams Law School – Cairo, Egypt
Democratic Arab Center
Journal of Afro-Asian Studies : Seventh Issue – November 2020
A Periodical International Journal published by the “Democratic Arab Center” Germany – Berlin. The journal deals with the field of Afro-Asian strategic, political and economic studies
The current conditions in the Middle East are a stage full of challenges and developments that have been restoring the balance of power in the Middle East and perhaps the entire world since the beginning of 2020. From the wildfires in Australia to the Corona pandemic, the conflicts that are taking place in most Arab countries are divided and multi-party, which are about to collapse.
Perhaps I would like to focus my research here on the foreign policy and challenges of the Arab Republic of Egypt, as well as on the role of international law in the protection of international peace and security.
We have to offer what some neighboring countries are facing, as in the Libyan Republic, or what urges the Palestinian issue and the continuous Israeli violations in violation of all international law rules, of course the Syrian issue, the presence of armed militias, and the role of Turkey, Iran, and Russia in the Arab countries. The emphasis is on the aspirations of each of these and the real reasons for their presence in the Arab countries.
The hope of tomorrow, what happens in the world at this moment, is the result of many actions and processes that have taken place over the past years that have established what we are today, perhaps there are some observations about the global evil forces’ clawing on the Arab world, perhaps due to the twentieth century.
With many developments in the Middle East, It is the century in which the Zionist entity emerged, in which oil fields exploded from the Arab world’s caves, and this was the standard that helped shape the map of the Arab world and the map of Arab international relations with the policy of the neighboring countries in the Middle East and the world.
Speaking about the subject of our discussion, which is the international law and the Egyptian foreign policy in the face of security threats from the Middle East countries, we are about to talk about two main issues, namely, Egyptian international relations from a political perspective with the neighboring countries, whether on the Arab level or on the regional level. The second is the international law and its role in protecting Egyptian foreign policy against security threats, while considering the law’s position on the current regional issues represented in closing the Ethiopian Renaissance, the Libyan and Syrian files… Also consider the Turkish and Iranian position regarding the current events and their ambitions in the Arab world’s wealth.
We must first take a look at what Egyptian foreign policy is so that we can explain the impact of international law on foreign policy. In view of the concept of Egyptian foreign policy, it is up to us to talk about Egypt’s recent history, which we mean for the past five decades.
After the United Kingdom became the Arab Republic of Egypt, and Egypt became a monarchy-to-Republic policy, the Revolutionary Command Council, led by Gamal Abdel Nasser, had to take a new course of progress and development toward some of the world’s great powers, such as the Soviet Union, Korea, China, and others. In the past few decades, Egypt’s Arab Republic has had to adopt an international political strategy with world powers such as Russia, China, Japan, the United States, and others.
International law plays the role of patrimony on the international relations that keep the cover of the international peace between countries, especially with the emergence of many international violations of the international law provisions, as happened recently in the Syrian policy or even the long decades to date between Israel and the first Arab issue, the Palestinian file. But it does represent the protector of the general framework of what is happening now on different international levels, which threatens international security for Egypt, specifically, or even for most of the Arab world countries.
Of course, we do not hide the fact that some African countries are destabilizing the region, and accordingly I will be very close to explaining the elements and history of the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, whose place is currently very important. The Sudanese side is undoubtedly playing an important part in establishing the rules of negotiations for the benefit of the Egyptian and Ethiopian parties, and the Security Council and the United Nations stand toward the various international issues that preoccupy the public opinion.
Also on the level of international security threats surrounding the Arab world, we havemany issues that control the situation in some countries: Syria, Libya, Lebanon, Yemen and Egypt, too.
Importance of Study:
The current circumstances on the international and domestic arena may play the biggest role in highlighting the role and importance of this paper, which in turn shines light on more Egyptian foreign policy issues, but also highlights the disclosure of many international issues concerning neighboring countries’ policy. Whether at the Arab world level or even at the Middle East and the world levels.
Also, to clarify the role of African countries under the current circumstances and their position with Egypt’s foreign policy, whether on the level of the crisis of the GERD or even with the brotherly state of Sudan and its internal disorders. The role of international law in shaping current events and in giving legal cover to allow international legitimacy to formulate concepts through which negotiations are conducted that resolve outstanding regional issues at various levels.
- To identify the means of the Egyptian state to negotiate with the Ethiopian side and the Libyan side regarding the different threats from both sides, and to clarify the political and diplomatic tools used by both sides and the role of international law in solving the different disputes now.
- To clarify the role of the United Nations and the Security Council in the application and manifestation of the role of international law in obliging aggressor States to the rights of other States; The adoption of the necessary strict international resolutions is binding and may even lead to the imposition of various international sanctions against the international community, which are in the process of threatening the security and stability of the Middle East.
- The role of the world’s great powers in the circumstances of most Arab and Middle Eastern countries, And to demonstrate the factors influencing applicable international decision-making leading to effective and urgent crisis-resolution solutions.
- Sound negotiation through the application of the rules of international law, and the mediation of the great powers in resolving the international crisis brings us to a more stable international community.
We would like to ask about who is responsible for everything that happens in the Middle East in this decade, starting with the Syrian crises, Yemeni, Libyan and Egyptian, and their relation with the African countries… And the role of Middle East countries like Turkey and Iran in shaping the current political movement, why does this all happen? And for whom?
We have several axes through which to reach the objectives of the research, first we will talk about the concept of Egyptian foreign policy, and of course we will move on to explain the policy of the neighboring countries at the level of Arab countries and the Middle East, a detailed explanation of the various crises that threaten Egyptian national security and Arab security. It ended up with the role of international law in the current period.
First: Egyptian Foreign Policy.
The Arab revolutions have shaped the concept of Egyptian foreign policy, especially after the region has gone through many internal conflicts different from previous events in the region, by moving from stable regions to unstable regions such as Libya, Syria and other Middle East regions.
Egypt was not far from the debate in the Middle East, especially given its leading role in the region, but before the January 2011 revolution Egypt had established its position among countries through its vital positions in resolving the crises and conflicts in the region, for example, Egypt’s role in resolving the Palestinian crisis. It also plays a role in resolving the Turkish-Syrian crisis in 1998, as well as in resolving the Middle East’s proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
After the January Revolution, the situation was completely different, two factors determining the legitimacy of Egypt’s leading role in the region, namely economic weakness that clearly supports political and military activity in the world, and the other trend that it believes will need more time to regain its sovereign position on the continent of Africa. These circumstances, which the Egyptian state has experienced in isolating President Mubarak and then moving to the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood, each of which has its political orientation, which it tried to impose on the nature of the Egyptian international relations. President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s period marked a new beginning in terms of economic stability and strategic leverage in the world. But, of course, many international security crises have escalated at various levels and around the world.
Second: Foreign Policy Features since 2014
With the start of a new and recognized regime after the July revolution in which millions of Egyptians supported President Abdel Fattah al-politician, the new regime’s policy Should have worked throughout the country, and foreign policy may have had different characteristics.
The expansion of the external activity of the country, with no influence on the scope of its influence, there is a diversification of Egypt’s foreign relations through Egypt’s policy of diversifying its foreign relations, so that they are not limited to a number of countries, which restrict the movement of strategic vision in the Arab and international region. President Mohamed Morsi’s tenure has consolidated governance with a number of countries that are restraining Egypt’s status in the region, but Egypt’s new policy has been liberalized by establishing relations with many of the world’s great powers, such as China, Russia, North Korea, and others.
The second feature is to make Egyptian foreign policy a tool to reinforce the country’s external legal powers in the world, and thus to guarantee the support of the international powers to the Egyptian government and guarantee its international support, as well as the third attribute, which is an increase of dependence on the military powers. The country no longer depends on soft power or diplomatic powers to impose the political image in all matters concerning security and stability in Egypt. Speaking of the role of military forces in the field of foreign policy, Egypt sent the armed forces to fight the terrorist organization of ISIS in many Arab countries such as Syria and Libya, even when the Arab alliance was formed to confront any threat of instability in the Arab region.
Third: A look at the different international relations in the region.
It is a self-evident view of the international relations of neighboring countries in one region to swing between stability and tension that the one geographical scope creates a complex interlocking group between the factors of convergence and divergence that sometimes reach between alliance and even violent hostility. All countries in the world are sphere-based influence and influence, particularly neighboring countries.
The factors of tension and divergence differ from several reasons:
- There are different national issues, with which many wars and conflicts are concentrated in memory among peoples.
- Ideological and ideological differences, credibility questioning in events prevails.
- Water and oil disputes, which are a recent focus in this research, have worsened expectations of many disputes and wars over water and oil, especially in the region.
- Political and expansionist tendencies, which include a false ambition to restore old glories of old occupation and which have no place in our time.
All these differences are real and cannot be turned away, except to pretend even that they do not exist, as they establish unfriendly relations and conflicts between Arab and neighboring countries, perhaps among these hostile manifestations, such as the following:
- The non-friendly relations with Israel.
The first Arab issue that the Arab world has been busy with for many decades, the Palestinians see the region as their historical homeland, where they lived for thousands of years, and in return the Jews consider that these lands are their right. Political and sectarian differences between Palestine and Israel increased in 1948, and the killings and displacement of Palestinians increased.
But in 1973, a ceasefire was agreed and ceasefire agreements were signed following the October 6 war, and a peace agreement was signed between Egypt and Israel in 1979, leading to the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Sinai Peninsula. But the conflicts between the Israeli entities reached the height of the conflict between Palestine and Israel in 1982 during the Lebanon War, and the Oslo agreement created a central authority for the state of Palestine in 1994.
Regional organizations stressed the necessity of establishing the comprehensive peace process in the Arab region and the Middle East, as a result of the international legitimacy as a result of the international violations that violate the international laws on the Palestinian people. Although all these conflicts have occurred on a very small regional scale, they have received very considerable international media and political attention.
A contractual legal settlement reflects the intention to establish a just peace. So we can say that a settlement is the first real step toward peace and that it is not a certain step for coexistence or regional integration. If we apply this perspective at the current stage, the Arab-Israeli conflict, but peace – which seems to be a peaceful choice – needs new thinking and vision.
It calls us here to reflect on what is happening at the international and regional levels, to discover the size of Israeli policies, and certainly Israel will not be able to include all the peoples of the earth for it, that the shift in the balance of power will change one day. The origin of co-existence is the right of peoples to fully realize their rights without the control of anyone.
- Egyptian-Iranian Relations.
Egyptian, Arab and Iranian relations have always been characterized by tension. The Arab-Iranian conflict since the beginning of history since the time of Persia, and there is a conflict between them and Iran, which always seeks to control the whole region, sometimes by undoing some of our enemy forces and other antics by practicing malignant politics in an attempt to spread their different communist doctrinal ideas Culture of the whole Arab world.
The conflict has acquired the Arab-Iranian homeland a religious form and a political dimension following religious confusions in the early 16th century, as well as the conflict of the Arab territories. In 1925, it began to control the Arab region of Arabistan, now known as Khuzestan, north of the Arab Gulf, known as the richest Iranian oil region, which led to more tension in the Middle East region, until it reached the occupation of the three Emirates islands, so that the matter in the Arab world became even angrier. The Arab League has even expressed its outrage at Iran’s continued interference in Arab affairs.
As for the Arab attitude toward the Iranian nuclear file, the Arab countries agreed unanimously on the necessity of abiding by the agreement reached in July 2015 between the Iranian Republic and the Gulf countries group, emphasizing the role of the International Atomic Energy Agency in this regard. And reemphasizing the use of sanctions if Iran deviate from international agreements on the rules of using weapons of mass destruction.
- Egyptian Policy toward Iran.
Diplomatic relations between Cairo and Tehran remained severed by the Iranian revolution after signing Camp David agreement between Egypt and Israel in 1979, Iran took a strict stance toward Egypt, and even called the killer of President Sadat the name of the killer on a street there. Indeed, Tehran has received a large number of leaders of the terrorist Brotherhood as a kind of expression of Tehran’s hatred of Cairo.
Several reasons prevented the restoration of Egyptian-Iranian relations as they were, some of them related to calculating gains and losses of Iran’s internal political system. Egypt-US relations with the Gulf Cooperation Council have been and continue to be a threat to many Middle Eastern countries, including Iran, one of the most important reasons that has prevented Iran from considering restoring international relations with Cairo.
The decision to restore Egyptian-Iranian relations is purely strategic, and taking such a decision requires many multifaceted calculations and estimates. Abul Gheit, former Egyptian Foreign Minister and current Arab League president, says that ” the ruling element in the possibility of developing the Egyptian-Iranian relation or not was the security dimension and personal experience of the president and the relevant security services. The security services have always doubted the Iranian intentions and their desire to penetrate Egypt for its traditional and revolutionary trends.”
The path of Iran-Egypt relations, despite many political considerations that may call for rapprochement between both regimes, will remain the decision to converge on many of the above-mentioned limitations and concerns, The Egyptian decision remains stalled when there is a real change in the regime and Iranian intentions toward the concepts of Egyptian policy in the Arab region, and it is worth mentioning that Cairo cannot abandon relations with Arab brothers or even with the United States to restore relations with Iran.
- Egyptian-Turkish relations and current security threats.
We cannot translate international relations between Egypt and Turkey without reference to the historical roots that have been linking the two countries. The relations between the two countries, where Egypt is located at the meeting point between the African and Asian continents, thus controlling the water movement between both continents, while Turkey is located between Asia and Europe, which is also a strategic passage between both continents. Cairo and Ankara have both regional influence and the region’s most influential military powers.
The relationship between the two countries was very good in the mutual policy until it reached the crossroads, where each became the biggest threat in the region after we explain how it happened. From the beginning of 2011, with the Arab Spring and the Arab revolutions beginning, this has been an obstacle and an opportunity for Turkey to adjust its foreign policy toward the Arab countries so that it can be excluded from
The current event.
Turkey considered that what happened in Cairo in the events of July 30 only came as a military coup of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, and that some policies toward Egypt’s government of coup d’état should be taken after the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi, Turkish politics has taken a different approach to Egypt, as it has gone through two stages:
- Transition: After Morsi’s rule, two first periods emerged: The transition period of interim President Adly Mansour’s rule in 2013 and President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s term in office.
The Muslim Brotherhood is one of the pillars of the Turkish political leadership in the Arab world, but after they were overthrown from political rule in Egypt and the leaderships fled to Turkey, Turkey’s hostility to Egyptian politics was clearly and publicly taken and took a clear and open hostile form. During President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s tenure, Cairo resented interference in the country’s internal affairs, competition for regional role in the Middle East emerged, and each country tried to project itself even more in the region.
Turkey went on to appear as a strong ally of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries under the coolness of Egyptian relations with some Arab countries, whereas Cairo offered Egyptian-European relations a step forward, even on the level of the black continent, Cairo greatly improved the relation with the African countries. Competition between both also has emerged over many military and economic areas.
The differences between the two countries continue after the recent military and political turmoil over the Egyptian-Greek border demarcation agreement to maximize the benefits of the Mediterranean’s fortunes, while Turkey has objected to such an agreement. This is not everything on the Turkish side that has strongly intervened in Libyan territory, posing a real threat to the western border of the Egyptian state, as Egypt has always believed that Turkey supports terrorist groups in cooperation with Qatar to stabilize the Egyptian state and to seek consensus on the country’s oil fields We will explain the Libyan case in some detail.
- Libyan case and Egyptian National Security.
Since the beginning of the Arab Spring events in the Arab region, which coincided with the civil war in Libya and then the military intervention to the death of leader Muammar Al-Gadhafi, the existence of the civil war has affected the spread of armed groups, which have also been silent in the process of violence and armed conflict. The abundance of oil fields in Libya has made it a place for armed groups and many armed forces, such as Russia, Turkey, Iran, and others.
Given the close proximity of the borders of both Egypt and Libya, each has had an impact on the other, on the one hand, and on the other, on the other, Libya has had several armed groups and militias supported by many external powers, such as Iran, that support events in Syria, and that some groups in Libya support instability in the region. Cairo should have taken a serious position on the events because it represents a real threat to Egyptian national security because of the presence of many terrorist groups.
First and foremost, the Cairo Declaration on many important points, which received international support from many international powers such as Russia, the United States of America, Greece, Italy and Germany, has certainly made several points:
- To reaffirm the unity and integrity of Libyan territory, to respect all international efforts, initiatives and relevant Security Council resolutions and to build on the commitment of all parties to the ceasefire.
- The initiative was based on the results of the Berlin summit, which resulted in a comprehensive political solution that includes clear implementation steps, political, security, economic and respect for human rights International human law is an investment in the consensus that emerged from the Berlin Conference among the leaders of the countries concerned with the Libyan crisis.
- The UN-sponsored 5+5 military Commission in Geneva has completed its work and has the effect of making the rest of the tracks work, taking into account the importance that the UN and the international community commit all foreign sides to remove mercenaries from all Libyan lands, dismantle militias and hand over their weapons so that the forces can hand over the Libyan National Army in cooperation with the agencies Security forces are responsible for their military and security missions in the country.
- Working on restoring the Libyan state to its national institutions, with determining the suitable Libyan national mechanism to revive the political track under the auspices of the United Nations and to invest the international community’s efforts to solve the Libyan crisis.
- Restoration of State control over all security institutions and support to the military (Libyan National Army); The National Army carries out its responsibilities in fighting terrorism and confirms a course in cooperation with the security and police services to protect Libyan sovereignty and restore security in the air and land maritime field.
- The Ethiopian Renaissance Dam case and the Egyptian Water Security threat.
The Nile River file was considered as a thorny file on the table of discussions between African countries in the 1990s, relations between Egypt and Nile Basin countries became very tense. This was the result of the Egyptian administration’s question of this file due to the disparity of powers between Egypt and many African countries, and also because it represents a threat to Egyptian water security.
It is therefore necessary to address several concepts on the concept of regional water security, then to address the Egyptian administration in its handling of the crisis and its developments, and the positions of the Nile Basin countries.
- National Water Security:
The concept of water national security, since it is one of the dimensions of the country’s general national security and has a close relationship with all matters concerning the state security and the life of the citizen, water security is what per capita water needs represent throughout the year. According to the above, the concept of national water security “Hua” confers available water resources, uses them in various aspects of life and searches by all means for new water sources.
Water security is therefore an integral part of the national security of the State. The Egyptian policy on water security is based on two principles: Regulating the Nile water and ensuring that the Nile water reaches the extent specified by history.
- International agreements on the Nile River and Egypt’s position on it:
- Bilateral agreements:
On the level of bilateral agreements, Egypt has concluded several agreements with Ethiopia and Sudan, and between them and some Nile Basin countries.
- Rome Protocol 1891: This agreement was signed between Rome and Italy, during the Italian colonization of Eritrea, Italy, at this time, had been extended after any facilities on the Nile River that would disrupt the flow of water to the rest of the Nile.
- The 1902 Addis Ababa Convention: The agreement was signed by Britain on behalf of Egypt and Ethiopia, during which the Ethiopian emperor pledged not to establish any facilities that would hinder the movement of water access to the last of the infected countries.
- The Convention of 1906: The Convention was signed between Britain, France and Italy by agreement to secure the arrival of Nile River tributaries in Egypt.
- Rome Convention 1925: A series of letters exchanged between Britain and Italy in 1925, in which Italy recognizes the water rights acquired by Egypt and Sudan from their share in the Nile.
- Collaboration framework: Signed in Cairo on July 1, 1993, between Egyptian President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak and Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.
Fourth: The role of international law in the light of international transformations.
International law has undergone a major transformation in recent times over many different international events from revolutions in the Arab world. By causing turmoil in many countries, we have ended up in an international crisis, the virus of the Corona that Is now spreading around the world International law is not a possibility of sanctification or immortality, but it is a change in international circumstances and conditions to be adapted to the current reality in the turbulent circumstances, after many upheavals, the need to overcome the current crisis of international law has become more urgent than ever. Since two crises are at the forefront of the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam crisis and the Libyan Republic crisis, Egypt is based on international law in resolving the Ethiopian crisis, based on several important principles that support its position at the international level and at the Security Council level: International conventions signed between Egypt and Ethiopia that recognize Egypt’s water rights and regulate its relationship with the Nile Basin countries, principles of international law for the non-navigational uses of international watercourses. Egypt is relying on a number of Ethiopian problems, including violations of the principles of good faith in negotiations and in the implementation of international treaties.
The role of international law and the United Nations in the light of the Libyan crisis is to present its vision of a fundamental solution in the context of the contradictions of the priority of the disarmament and democratization without a clear horizon of constitutional stability. In view of all these complexities, the United Nations does not seem to place political dialog as a priority in political arrangements, the political changes in the processes of applying international law in various current crises seem to be not sensitive to political realities. This leads to a reduction in the country’s stability.
The absence of international controls with a degree of consensus among all countries around the world, which frames various international interventions and practices, would precipitate the collapse of international law as a whole.
In our research we reviewed many information about the international relations and foreign policies practiced by neighboring countries against the Egyptian state in light of these difficult circumstances, we may not know why some want to control the Middle East, why some want to overthrow the Egyptian state and its leading role in the process of building lasting peace In the Arab region, many of the problems were listed starting from the Turkish ambitions and their role in overthrowing the Libyan regime or the Syrian or Yemeni problem. Also, the spotlight was shed on what the state of Iran aims and what it wants from the Arab countries … even the problem is the Renaissance Dam the Ethiopian side, the Ethiopian side took advantage of the Egyptian revolution in 2011 until it started to build the dam, hitting all international treaties and agreements. It was the largest water threat in the Egyptian state, and it threatened the water security.
Lasting peace is a clear message that does not need explanation, perhaps an impossible task that cannot be reached, and we can only strive to reach peace that achieves the greatest degree of stability in light of international relations that are free from the purposes of control and domination that will only reach us to Ruins and destruction are in the region, and we hope that we will not get there one day.
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