Head East! Toward a Security Alliance between Egypt and the UAE

By Professor Hamdy A. Hassan, Zayed University, Egypt.


Cairo, Egypt

Abstract

In discussions of the unrest that followed the Arab Spring uprisings, the relationship between Egypt and the United Arab Emirates has attracted considerable scholarly attention. The Arab region has over the years undergone radical political changes in terms of both Arab countries’ internal affairs and the formation of regional alliances. In the period from Egypt’s July 1952 revolution to the uprising of January 25, 2013, its relations with Gulf states ranged from tension to alliance, from the climate of the Cold War and the struggle for influence in the Arab world to competition and, at times, cooperation. The final turning point was the protest on June 30, 2013, that led to the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood government by Egypt’s armed forces. Egypt’s decision to turn its attention to the Gulf, in particular to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, is unsurprising, being motivated largely by the desire to formulate a new strategic alliance capable of meeting the challenges of the post-Arab Spring period. The UAE took the lead among the Arab countries that helped Egypt to overcome the economic crises plaguing it after the army deposed President Mohamed Morsi. The aim of this paper is to describe and explore the evolving strategic partnership between Egypt under General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and the UAE.

Keywords: Arab Spring, Gulf Security, Muslim Brotherhood, Terrorism, Gulf Cooperation Council.


Introduction

Egypt is a major powerhouse in the Middle East among the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, having played pivotal roles in the history of the region and in maintaining its balance and stability. Though Egypt and the GCC countries have not always been able to reach a consensus, the relationship among them has been based on close cultural, demographic, and economic ties. In the post-Arab Spring uprisings, Egypt’s relationship with the GCC countries in general, and the UAE in particular, has attracted considerable scholarly attention. The region has undergone radical political changes in terms of both countries’ internal affairs and the formation of regional alliances. In the period from Egypt’s July 1952 revolution until the uprising of January 25, 2013, its relations with Gulf states ranged from tension to alliance, from the climate of the Cold War and the struggle for influence in the Arab world to competition and, at times, cooperation. The final turning point was the June 30, 2013, protest that led to the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood government by Egypt’s armed forces. Its decision to turn its attention to the Gulf, especially Saudi Arabia and the UAE, is unsurprising, being motivated largely by the desire to formulate a new strategic alliance capable of meeting the challenges of the post-Arab Spring period. The UAE took the lead among the Arab countries in helping Egypt to weather the economic crises plaguing it after the army deposed President Mohamed Morsi. In addition to the grants and other forms of assistance that the UAE has provided to Egypt, there is considerable economic cooperation between the two countries; thus, for example, the UAE is among the top four importers of Egyptian food products.


This paper seeks to answer basic questions about the historical background of the evolving UAEEgyptian partnership regarding the manner in which Egypt and the UAE understand the main threats to their common security and the overall nature of interactions in their bilateral security and military relations.


Historical background

Security and military concerns were of particular importance in relations between Egypt and the UAE even before the UAE was officially unified on December 2, 1971. Thus, for instance, Egypt in 1968 strongly opposed the East Suez policy through which the United Kingdom (U.K.) sought to determine the geostrategic structure of the Gulf region after its own withdrawal by establishing a number of military alliances, in particular with pre-revolution Iran and the United States (U.S.). 1 Although the Egyptian leadership very much welcomed Britain’s decision to that withdraw from the Trucial States, considering this an important victory in the Arab battle against colonialism, it opposed the security and military arrangements that Western countries and Iran were trying to impose on the Gulf region. It was no secret that Iran was eager to gain control of Bahrain, but the people of Bahrain chose to declare their independence in 1970, thereby thwarting Iran’s efforts (2).


Keep reading here


Suggested Citation:

Hassan, Hamdy Abdelrahman, Head East! Toward a Security Alliance between Egypt and the UAE (2018). Hassanein Ali , Ed , 2018. The United Arab Emirates Relations with Egypt, Dar Al Khaleej.. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3444883 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3444883

  • Black Twitter Icon
  • Black Facebook Icon

© 2017 by Talking About Terrorism.