‘Iran and Egypt going to offset Saudi and US in Mid-East’
Egypt has been dependent on American aid for decades, previously receiving over a billion dollars a year. Now President Mohamed Morsi is off to China next week seeking investment, which sends a clear message that he is trying to rebalance, shifting away from the West.
Egypt needs immediate cash from the US, the IMF and the Gulf monarchies, but as for Cairo's geopolitical interests, “in the long term [the Egyptians] want to get better with China, who can fill the gap so that they don’t have to rely on the West anymore,” Hughes revealed.
In return Beijing evidently needs access to the Mediterranean and some Suez Canal priorities, something the US is getting currently, believes Hughes. Though at first it looks like China doesn’t get much, the truth is those two things are pretty big as Beijing wants port access, he said.
“They want to ally themselves with non-allied. Allying with Egypt and taking it from us (the US) is a win for China,” shared Hughes.
It is no secret that after China, President Morsi will head to Iran, one of the West's main thorns right now. Given the ongoing tensions over Tehran's nuclear projects, it is quite a provocative move.
Yet the feeling between Cairo and Tehran is mutual, insists foreign policy analyst.
“The unspoken link here is Israel,” Hughes said, explaining that Egypt can leverage its relationship to put pressure on Israel to stop this loose talk about bombing Iran.
“Here’s the connection, for Morsi starts looking like a geopolitical genius. If he can pull this off, if he can make Israel to step back with the whole ‘bombing Iran’ thing – that would be pretty amazing,” Michael Hughes said.
“After all, if Egypt finds Iran as a partner they don’t have to rely on the US or Israel, and they can offset and counterbalance the Gulf monarchies,” Hughes explained, saying that the Muslim Brotherhood that Morsi represents has a lot of problems with Saudi Arabia.
“It’s an interesting dynamic. Even though the Muslim Brotherhood are Sunni – and Iran is Shia – they have a lot in common against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Egypt's rapprochement with Iran is, of course, irritating Israel. The US is worrying about simmering violence in the border Sinai region, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seeking dialogue between the two countries.
Though slowly, the Muslim Brotherhood – and Egypt where it has come to power – is going to inch away from the US and ultimately Israel is going to understand that they are going to play ball, too, Michael Hughes pointed out. So Israel and Egypt will have to settle their dispute over Sinai [Peninsula] because they both have a common interest in defeating terrorism.
In the long term Israel will realize that Egypt has all the balls in its court as Israel is vitally dependent on treaties with Egypt – which scares Tel Aviv to death.
With President Morsi at the helm, Egypt is going to be a major player – and soon, as Morsi is going to rebalance the region, Michael Hughes predicts.
“Morsi is pretty brilliant. He has an endgame in mind. We don’t know what it is. We hope it’s not a caliphate,” Michael Hughes acknowledged.
“I think Iran and Egypt – they are going to offset the Saudi and the US,” Hughes concluded.