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Unhappiness with foreign policy brewing for years

By Clifford Kiracofe (Global Times)

08:26, August 27, 2012

(Global Times/ Sun Ying)

Editor's Note:

New Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi picked China rather than the US for his first visit to a big power, which has caused some stir. The visit, scheduled from August 28 to 30, is intended to bring Sino-Egyptian relations into a new stage. Is Egypt looking east? What does the visit mean to the US? Global Times invited two scholars to share their views.

Morsi's visit to China is a timely and positive development underscoring China's important role in the Middle East.

For over a decade, Egypt has been restive under its arrangements with the US and Israel. Not only the man in the street, but also significant elements in political, military, and religious leadership circles, questioned Egypt's foreign policy.

It was clear to me during a 2002 visit to Egypt that key secular leadership elements had reached the end of their rope with Washington. Diplomats and politicians were frank about Washington's one-sided pro-Israel policy and its consequences in the region.

An American colleague with decades of experience in Egyptian affairs said that Egypt, given US policy, would inevitably look east as far as Beijing. US financial assistance to Egypt was not a critical matter for Cairo nor was the matter of US arms supplies. Both could be obtained elsewhere.

Former Egyptian president Anwar el-Sadat's abrupt embrace of Washington and Tel Aviv was never fully accepted by the Egyptian masses, let alone by the broader Islamic world.

Through Sadat's policy Egypt was marginalized in both the Arab and Islamic worlds. Sadat may have been for a time the darling of the West and Israel, but it proved fatal for him.

Morsi's election presented a new opportunity to leadership circles in Egypt for change in foreign policy. It is logical that important secular elements and military elements will strive for a foreign policy consensus at this stage of Egypt's situation.

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