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Unhappiness with foreign policy brewing for years (2)

By Clifford Kiracofe (Global Times)

08:29, August 27, 2012

For Egypt, a Look East policy makes sense.

The Egyptian leader's stop in Tehran is also positive. The visit gives a boost to Cairo as a reawakened regional and international factor. It also presents the opportunity for Cairo and Tehran to develop friendship and cooperation.

Increased cooperation between Egypt and Iran on regional economic, political, and security matters could contribute substantially to peace and development in the region.

So what does this mean for Washington? There are two fundamental issues here: Middle East policy and China policy. From a traditional perspective, Washington is concerned in the Middle East with four key factors. These are the Arab states, Turkey, Iran, and Israel. Prudent policy would seek a balance among these factors in the region.

Domestic politics in the US, however, forced a strategic alignment with Israel in 1967, which has limited Washington's flexibility in regional diplomacy ever since. Rising concern in the "Arab Street" about the Palestine question and Israel puts pressure on regional governments.

Washington's decades old unbalanced pro-Israel regional strategy supported the neutralization of Egypt through the peace treaty with Israel coupled with finance and weapons for Cairo.

Washington's position is now complicated by its strong Arab Spring push. There is a contradiction: The more the US promotes democracy in the region, the more the Arab Street will demand solutions for the Palestine question and perceived Israeli aggression.

What pressure from the Arab Street will mean in Egypt with respect to the peace treaty with Israel remains to be seen.

Should Egypt's Look East policy give rise to a significant revision of its foreign policy both regionally and internationally, Washington may face some real difficulties. These difficulties are made still more problematic as the trend in US domestic politics over the past three decades made the pro-Israel lobby in Washington dominant over Middle East policy. Within this context, Chinese President Hu Jintao's invitation to the Egyptian leader is wise and farseeing. Egypt's Look East can result in constructive cooperation between China and Egypt which will benefit not only the Middle East but also the international community as a whole.

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