First and foremost, it is worth clarifying that in Iran the division between “reformists” and “liberals” on one side and “conservatives” or even “fundamentalists” on the other makes no sense whatsoever.
Both political camps are linked to the memory and teaching of Imam Khomeini, who was a political leader because he was an innovator in the field of Twelver Shia Islam.
For the Imam of the 1979 revolution who, immediately after rising to power, dismissed Iran’s nuclear power inherited from the Shah as “a sign of the devil” – albeit he later changed his mind – the aim of the Prophecy, which for him is equal to human reason, “is to guide mankind towards the establishment of a just society through the implementation of divine laws”.
Hence, unlike what happened in the old Quietist tradition of both strands of Islam, namely Sunni and Shia, for the Imam of the Shia revolution “Islam is a political religion, and every aspect of this religion is political, even its worship”.
Therefore, during the current period of ”concealment of the Last Imam”, the faqih, namely the “experts of Islamic Shia law”, must set up an Islamic State.
In short, the political power is the faqih’s religious duty: this is the basis of the famous velayat-e faqih, namely the “guardianship of the jurist”.
For Imam Khomeini, the whole community of faqih represents the concealed Imam on the earth until his appearance-revelation.
Hence the “experts of Islamic Shia law” have, jointly and collectively, the same authority and responsibility as those that Prophet Muhammad and the first “well-directed” Caliphs had on the earth.
Again to quote Khomeini, “Islamic government is neither tyrannical nor absolute, but constitutional. It is constitutional in the current sense of the word, i.e. based on the approval of laws in accordance with the opinion of the majority. It is constitutional in the sense that the rulers are subject to a certain set of conditions in governing and administering the country, conditions that are set forth in the Noble Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Most Noble Messenger (s). It is the laws and ordinances of Islam comprising this set of conditions that must be observed and practiced. Islamic government may therefore be defined as the rule of divine law over men”.
All the members of the Iranian Parliament and of the other elected or non-elected institutions act within this set of values, principles, as well as legal and Qur’an practices. Needless to think of a Westernization through liberalization, as some Western analysts imagine.
Or to think of a Shia regime rift between pro-Westerners and “reactionaries” because, for the Iranian ruling classes, the core of the issue is how to use the West and not be used by it.
Hence thinking of a specific theocracy “of waiting” – as the one of the Iranian Shia State, a unique case in political theology – as a system divided between “liberals” and “conservatives” (regardless of what both words may mean in the West) is a sign of utmost naivety for those who have to interpret the results of Iran’s 2016 elections.
The Pervasive Coalition of Reformists: the Second Step, named the List of Hope, led by Mohammed Khatami, is the only coalition which openly supports the so-called “reformists”. It is an assemblage of parties or lists such as the Council for Coordinating the Reforms Front, Mehdi Kharroubi’s National Trust Party, the Union of Islamic Iran People Party, which is the Hassan Rowhani’s newly-established political arm, and finally, the Followers of Velayat, led by Ali Larijani, former chief nuclear negotiators (considered a “conservative”) and current Speaker of Parliament.
The political groups allied to the List of Hope, which has great significance in two-round elections such as Iran’s, are the Assembly of Qom Seminary Scholars and Researchers, the Combatant Clergy Society and the Association of Followers of the Imam’s Line.
It is worth recalling that the List of Hope also includes 24 other smaller groups, such as the Islamic Association of Women and the Islamic Labour Party of Iran.
In the elections this party-coalition obtained 28.62% of votes and got 83 Parliamentary seats out of a total of 239.
The Principlists Coalition that the West (gazing, as Narcissus, at its own reflection) passes off as “conservative” is made up of a fraction of the Combatant Clergy Society and the Islamic Coalition Party, as well as four other smaller groups.
It got 64 seats in the Majlis with 22.06% of votes.
Ali Motahari’s People’s Voice Coalition was created to criticize the “conservative” Ahmadinedjad.
A cousin of Ali Larijani, who is now leading his own party within the winning coalition, Motahari is the son of a faqih and is regarded as a liberal-conservative politician.
Motahari’s List obtained 3.44% of votes and got ten seats, but it is difficult to place it in the traditional Downs’ left-right axis we use for the systems derived from the American and French revolutions.
There are many true independent candidates – as many as 55 members of Parliament, who can safely support either camps, which appear to us progressive or conservative.
The religious minorities accepted in the country, namely Jews, Zoroastrians, Christians, Assyrians, Chaldeans and Armenians, obtained their five constitutional seats and garnered 1.75% of votes.
The results are even more complex to analyze in the case of the Assembly of Experts, the Council entrusted with the task of supervising the Parliament in accordance with the velayat-e-faqih. It is the 88-member Council that will elect the next Rahbar, the Supreme Leader.
As many as 27 seats were obtained by the Principlists Coalition, while the Second Step reformists gained 20 seats.
As many as 35 candidates, however, were supported by both coalitions which we like to ascribe to our camp.
The results reached by the various coalitions show that, in the Assembly of Experts, 19 mujtahid were elected directly by the Second Step coalition, while 27 were elected with the votes of other lists not allied to the “progressives”, for a total of 46 “experts” who, I assume, will be answerable to both political traditions – if any.
The Combatant Clergy Society has 5 Experts directly elected, but as many as 51 voted also by other groups, including many of the camp we define as progressive.
The Combatant Clergy was created in 1977, before the Islamic revolution, to topple the Shah. Its first leaders were Ali Khamenei, the current Supreme Leader, Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, who is the current leader of other progressive lists, and Morteza Mohtahari, the father of the current leader of the People’s Voice Coalition.
The group now counts 56 members in the Assembly of Experts, accounting for 64%. This rebalances much of the progressive shift in the Majlis.
The Society of Seminary Teachers of Qom elected 3 Experts directly and 51 ones jointly with other lists that sponsored them.
It is the group at the origin of the 1979 revolution, founded by Ayatollah Khomeini’ students as early as 1961, when the Shah seemed unassailable and indeed, according to his Iranian name, “King of Kings”.
As can be easily imagined, in the city and province of Tehran, the People’s Experts list received a landslide victory.
But, as in other countries, including Western ones, here the divide is between urban and rural areas – the same rift which gave rise to capitalism in the West and destroyed centralist socialism in the USSR and, in other respects, in China.
Nevertheless many Rowhani’s personal opponents and competitors were excluded from Parliament or from the Assembly of Experts. Hence, for the President in office, the issue lies in using this power surplus.
The focus of Rowhani’s policy is the economy and, above all, the geopolitical impact of the planned Iranian economic expansion after the agreement with the P5+1.
Iran needs it. It needs a booming economy to tackle the problems and uneasiness of young people (leading to their “Westernization”) and update its obsolete production system, which has grown lazy and idle as a result of an almost completely nationalized economy.
The President will privatize, at first, the automotive industry, but he has also bought a fleet of 118 Airbus airplanes for a total sum of 25 billion US dollars.
Nevertheless the political debate in Iran does not concern reforms, but their pace and their shape.
And especially their political impact on the relations with the United States and some other Western countries. Nobody, within the Majlis or the Council of Experts, wants the United States to monitor Iran’s industrial transformation and its very recent opening onto the “market-world”.
Currently Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) amounts to 4.88 billion US dollars, but Iran has designed a Development Plan for the period 2016-2021. An amount of 361 billion US dollars needs to be invested, 204 of which can be found in Iran, but the rest has to come from foreign countries or private investors.
Hence, if Iran uses the JCPOA to become the largest population and economy to be globalized after the USSR collapse, the geopolitical effects are likely to be the following: it will increase its engagement in the Greater Middle East, but only in connection with the Russian Federation and China; it will counteract the low oil price policy led by Saudi Arabia to “punish” the United States and Russia; it will create its own Shia area of influence, which will not lead to a war against the Sunnis, but to an ongoing attrition with Saudi Arabia and its allies.
The competition between Iran and Saudi Arabia will be particularly fierce in attracting the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) which is coming to Iran after the signing of the JCPOA and after Saudi Arabia opening for the first time to FDI in June 2015.
The above stated plan envisages a yearly GDP growth exceeding 8%, a Chinese-style growth rate, but it is very likely that – once temporarily put an end to the nuclear power for military purposes (but is it really so?) – Iran will manage a military build- up, funded by economic growth, which will follow the traditional criteria: the primacy of guerrilla warfare and “hybrid strategies”, managed by the Pasdaran, and the ICBM missile system.
The strategic goals will be to strengthen its own regional role and the political management of the many Shia minorities scattered throughout the Sunni universe.
Moreover, the link between economic growth and Iranian remilitarization will be used to revive the relations with Russia and to enable China’s peaceful expansion into the Middle East and the Horn of Africa, finally as guardians of the future new “Silk Road” planned by Xi Jinping as early as 2013.
Middle Eastern powers vie in shaping a next generation of Muslims
Education is emerging as a major flashpoint in competing visions of a future Muslim world. Rival concepts being instilled in a next generation are likely to shape what amounts to a battle for the soul of Islam.
Reports earlier this year published by the Israel-based Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-SE) chart the divergence in educational approaches.
At one end of the spectrum are Pakistan and Turkey, two of the more populous Muslim countries whose claim to leadership of the Muslim world is rooted in conservative, if not ultra-conservative interpretations of Islam, that increasingly shape their education systems.
Straddling the two approaches is Qatar, the world’s only other Wahhabi state alongside Saudi Arabia even if it adhered to a more liberal interpretation long before the rise of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Since coming to office, Prince Mohammed has significantly reduced the role of ultra-conservative religious figures and institutions, cut back on global funding of Wahhabi activity, enhanced women’s rights and built a Western-style entertainment sector.
Sandwiched between Saudi Arabia and Iran, Qatar sees global support of political Islam, including the Muslim Brotherhood, as its best defense against the Saudi and Iranian governance models.
Qatari textbooks reflect the tightrope the Gulf state walks between professing adherence to concepts of democratic freedoms, human rights, tolerance, and pluralism, yet refusing to break with anti-Semitic and anti-Christian notions as well as philosophies of jihad and martyrdom prevalent in political Islam.
What the different approaches have in common is what makes both problematic: an endorsement of autocratic or strongman rule by either explicitly propagating absolute obedience to the ruler or the increasingly authoritarian environment in which the Islamicised education systems are being rolled out.
Underlying the different approaches to education are diverging interpretations of what Islam represents and what constitutes a moderate form of the faith as well as seemingly haphazard definitions put forward by various leaders.
To be sure, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, in contrast to the values propagated in Turkish and Pakistan school curricula, tackle issues that are widely seen as potentially contributing to breeding grounds for radicalism and extremism.
These include supremacist concepts, discriminatory portrayals of minorities, emphasis on rote learning and attitudes towards violence.
In an interview in early May, Prince Mohammed expressed seemingly contradictory definitions of what his version of moderate Islam entailed. On the one hand, the crown prince suggested that it involved a liberal application of Islamic law guided by principles of tolerance and inclusivity.
Yet, at the same time, when asked about tackling extremism, Prince Mohammed cited a hadith or prophetic saying that urges the faithful to kill extremists. Saudi dissidents charged that the crown prince was justifying the targeting of those who criticized him, such as Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist who was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.
“Today, we cannot grow, attract capital, offer tourism, or move forward with the existence of extremist ideology in Saudi Arabia. If you want millions of jobs, decline of unemployment, economic growth, and better income, then you must uproot this project… Any person who espouses an extremist ideology, even if he is not a terrorist, he is still a criminal who must be held accountable before the law,” Prince Mohammed said, arguing that the days in which religious ultra-conservatism served a purpose were in the past.
The divergence in educational approaches takes on added significance because countries that vie for leadership of the Muslim world like Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Turkey as well as Iran, export their visions of what the faith stands for in a variety of ways. These include funding of religious, cultural, and educational institutions in third countries and lobbying for policies that bolster their approach and counter that of their rivals.
While cutting back significantly on its overseas funding and harnessing the Muslim World League (MWL), once a prime vehicle in the Saudi promotion of ultra-conservatism, to propagate the kingdom’s more recent message of tolerance and inter-faith outreach, Saudi Arabia at times does not shy away from employing those it now denounces as extremists.
Indonesia is a case in point. The World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), another government-sanctioned non-governmental organization once used to further Saudi ultra-conservatism, prides itself on the funding of mosques in Indonesia built by the Prosperous Justice Party (Partai Keadilan Sejahtera or PKS), a Muslim Brotherhood affiliated group.
When MWL secretary general Mohammed al-Issa visited the headquarters in Jakarta of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the world’s largest Muslim movement, he opted to take with him Hidayat Nur Wahid, a leader of the PKS, and a staunch rival of the National Awakening Party (or PKB) that is associated with NU.
The Saudi flaunting of its political Islamic Indonesian associate appears designed to counter Nahdlatul Ulama, the single most serious challenger to the various concepts of Islam put forward by Middle Eastern powers, including the kingdom.
Nahdlatul Ulama promotes a concept of humanitarian Islam that is rooted in a reinterpretation of religious texts, recognizes the need for reform to revise or remove what the group calls “obsolete” concepts such as that of the kafir or infidel, and is supported by a broad base of Islamic scholars.
For its part, Turkey’s religious authority, Diyanet, that resides in the office of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has seen its budget increase 23-fold in the last two decades, making it by far one of the best funded government agencies.
Diyanet has funded mosque construction from the nearby formerly Ottoman countries in the Balkans to Africa and even Cuba. The Maarif Foundation, a vehicle used to take control globally of schools once operated by followers of Fethullah Gulen, uses school materials supplied by Diyanet.
Turkey accuses Mr. Gulen, a preacher who lives in exile in the United States and an erstwhile ally of Mr. Erdogan, of engineering a failed military coup in Turkey in 2016. Turkey has since arrested thousands of alleged Gulen supporters and removed large numbers of suspected supporters from the government bureaucracy and the military.
Multiple countries have handed local Gulen-operated schools to the Maarif Foundation. At last count, the foundation operated 323 schools, 42 dormitories and one university in 43 countries.
By the same token, the UAE supported by Saudi Arabia, has employed its religious soft power and commercial and economic sway to lobby for a tougher French policy towards political Islam prior to the crackdown initiated by President Emmanuel Macron.
The lobbying emphasized common interests in countering political Islam and Turkey, with which France is at odds in Libya and the eastern Mediterranean as well as on the issue of political Islam. It gave the French leader welcome Muslim cover to target political Islam and Turkey as he gears up for an election in 2022 in which Marie Le Pen, the leader of the far right, nationalist and anti-immigration National Rally, looms large.
As part of the crackdown on political Islam, France required children to attend school from age three. It also all but eliminated options for home schooling or the operation of privately-funded schools.
Mr. Erdogan laid down the gauntlet declaring in 2018 that “the joint goal of all education and our teaching system is to bring up good people with respect for their history, culture and values.” Mr. Erdogan spoke of a “pious generation” that “will work for the construction of a new civilisation.” It’s that new civilisation that is at stake in the battle for the soul of Islam.
Egypt-China relations after the “U.S. and Israel Policies” in the Middle East
During the past years, several statements about “the new American world order” and “unipolarism” and “the new American century” have emerged over the past years, and other expressions that emphasized the United States’ uniqueness in “world leadership”, as it is the only unchallenged superpower. The American academic promotion and theorizing of absolute American leadership, and on the other hand, several writings have appeared – among them by prominent Chinese analysts and strategists – that go to “question the American unipolar system” and talk about a “multi-polar world”, and try to refute the allegations of the dominant American power, and question It could maintain its position in light of the rise of China, and the announcement by Chinese President “Xi Jinping” of its Belt and Road initiative in 2013().
As a researcher specializing in Chinese political affairs – and to understand the Chinese strategic analytical mindset, approaching it methodically towards its vision of the United States’ policy around the world – and through my reading and reviewing and analyzing a number of (documents of the ruling Chinese Communist Party) and analyzing them, Beijing has always “classified the United States, as a true enemy of China”, and here (there are a Chinese document) dating back to 1992 says: “The United States of America, since its transformation into a single superpower – has been working hard to achieve new hegemony and prevail over power politics – all this in light of its entry into the stage of relative decline and the emergence of the limits of its capabilities”. In 1995, the Chinese President “Jiang Zemin” declared that: “the hostile forces of the West did not give up a minute from their plans to Westernize and divide our country”. While his foreign minister said, prior to the annual meeting of the “ASEAN Group”, that: “The United States Abandoning its view of itself as the savior of the East, as we do not recognize the intransigence of the United States and its constant claim of its right to play the role of guaranteeing peace and stability in Asia under the pretext of defending its allies” ().
Here, the Chinese Academy “Zi Zhongwan” – the former director of the American Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences – expressed Chinese doubts and concerns about the US strategy for world domination. In the course of her evaluation of US – Chinese relations, she described them as “fragile relations”, and “Zonghuan” said that “the main factor here is the American position on the transformation of China into a modern, relatively strong country”, and although the official statements remain as they are, the question is What still arises is: To what degree does the American awareness allow China to be strong, with the assertion of the prominent Chinese diplomat in the Foreign Ministry “Dai Bingo” in an official speech on December 6, 2011, that: “We must adhere to the path of peaceful development”.
According to the Chinese analysis, they believe that “The United States believes that China is developing by leaps and bounds and is becoming more difficult to control”. In other words, “the acceleration of Chinese modernization does not always appear to be in line with those American interests”. Accordingly, Chinese leaders have begun to repeatedly talk in their international political speeches about “China’s active presence in the international arena”, with particular emphasis on “China’s rise” is a “peaceful rise” ().
On the Egyptian side, and the effects of this (the ongoing political, security, economic and regional competition between China and the United States of America on Egypt), we will find here that Egypt’s relations with the major international powers, chiefly the two competing powers (China and the United States of America) occupy a special importance on the (Egyptian foreign policy agenda), especially with the directions of the Egyptian political leadership to President (Abdel Fattah El-Sisi) to support and strengthen (Egypt’s relations with the major powers without having relations with any of them directed against the other), and that was the most important statement that the Egyptian Foreign Minister (Sameh Shoukry) summed up the foreign agenda to Egypt during his meeting with members of the (new Egyptian Parliament) on Tuesday, January 26, 2021 ().
Egypt is considered the representative of Arab, African, Islamic, developing and emerging economies, and its influence in international and regional affairs is increasing, and, on the other hand, the (Chinese development model) is widely welcomed in Egypt.
Hence, China’s keenness to provide permanent support to the Egyptian government’s efforts to maintain stability, develop the economy and improve the people’s livelihood. China also supported the most important thing (the path of development in Egypt in line with its national conditions), in addition to China’s support for Egypt’s growing and large role in international and regional affairs, to discuss Egypt’s relations with the great powers, especially (China and Washington), and to understand the extent of their (positively ornegatively) influence on the Egyptian role in the region, and Egypt’s regional and international relations. Therefore, the Egyptian researcher tried to present and analyze the following points to understand the course of transformations and Egypt’s relations with China and the United States and the importance of each of them for Egypt and the region in (creating balance and areas of influence and defending interests), as follows:
Egyptian President El-Sisi outreach to China and its impact on his relationship with both the USA and Israel
China tends to play an active and increasing role in Egypt and the Arab region in order to secure its energy security, and this does not mean that Chinese and American policies will clash, but the difference appears that China supports the features of Egyptian internal reform led by “El-Sisi” and supports Egypt’s policies after (the success of the June 30 revolution in Egypt), China also strongly opposed any external attempts to impose conditions for transformation on Egypt after (the June 30 Revolution), as China was one of the most important international powers in the world that supported President (El-Sisi), and defended the right of the Egyptian people to solve their problems by themselves, without Interference in his internal affairs, and here (China’s stance towards Egypt is closely related to its sense of national sovereignty and its successful experience in economic reform). We find that the Egyptian-Chinese cooperation achieves a strategic interest for both parties, as Egypt achieves strategic benefits from its economic, political and cultural ties with China, with the importance of Chinese investments in Cairo and the diversity of relations and partnerships, and the importance of the (Suez Canal) as a global navigation corridor that serves Beijing’s strategic interests, as a starting point to China from Egypt around the world ().
Egyptian-Chinese relations are closer and deeper, which maximizes the gains of the Egyptian state in its relations with other international powers, especially (the United States of America and its ally Israel) in the region. It also diversifies relations in front of the Egyptian side, and on the other hand, the rapprochement between China and Egypt leads to strengthening China’s relations with Arab countries, which leads to strengthening and strengthening its political, economic and cultural ties within the framework of a Chinese strategy to strengthen relations with the so-called countries of (the enlarged neighborhood), Which includes: the countries of Central Asia and the countries of the Middle East, in light of (real indicators of the new international order towards pluralism), and with the presence of many international transformations, especially after the global spread of the Corona pandemic and the spread of the (Covid-19) virus around the world, and the world’s realization that China is the only force capable of extricating the world from its crises. Through the multilateralism that China has advocated, the Chinese President (Xi Jinping) shows us how important China is to Egypt and the Arab countries, represented in (ending the American hegemony) over Egypt and the region, and achieving a political, economic and military balance in the face of American and Western interference policies in the internal affairs of Egypt and all Arab countries, which we have suffered from for many decades.
Here we find that the “Belt and Road” initiative helped stabilize the financial system in Egypt after (the success of the June 30 Revolution in Egypt), which helped save the deterioration of the Egyptian citizen’s income. The financial system in Egypt was suffering from severe turmoil between the years (2013-2014). This was during the stage in which China launched the “Belt and Road” initiative. The financial system in Egypt was (a dual currency rate system before November 2016), where there is a big difference between the official rates of the Egyptian pound against the US dollar and market prices, and the difference doubled in 2016, for example, the official price of the Egyptian pound against the US dollar It was up to (1.78 pounds), while its price in the market was (18 pounds), so the difference between them was really very large. However, Egypt started adopting a free trade policy after November 2016, which made the entire financial system become more stable ().
Given the importance of the Egyptian side to the Chinese, we find that (the extensive coverage by the Chinese press of what the Egyptian press publishes), and as (the Chinese Xinhua News Agency in its Arabic edition), it has, for example, a fixed paragraph that covers the events published by the Egyptian newspapers in an intensive and in-depth way, due to the importance of the events of Egypt for China. The (Chinese Communist Party) has also established strong relations with its Egyptian counterpart and with more than (30 Arab Communist, Leftist and Socialist Parties).
It is clear that China aspires to play (global roles), and the futility of escalating the confrontation with regional and global powers, and thus the presence of (unlimited Chinese political support in the Security Council and international forums for Egypt and all Arab countries with what distinguishes Chinese policy from refraining from imposing dictates related to In the internal affairs of countries), just as China, in its endeavor to settle the “Taiwan problem” on the basis of (one country, two systems), needs the recognition of 22 Arab countries, which is more than (10% of the members of the international community) that (Taiwan is an integral part of Chinese territory). The Arab countries represent a political back for China on the international arena, and China, in its endeavor to gain more international standing, needs Arab recognition of its role in the issues of concern to Egypt and all Arab countries.
On the other hand, although the Chinese “Belt and Road” initiative does not officially include Israel in its maps, the geographical location of Israel, the important Chinese economic participation in it, and the emerging peace agreements in the Middle East, put Israel in a major strategic point in the Chinese initiative, and of course when so from (influence on the Palestinian cause), Egypt and the Arab countries.
In order for China to succeed in its new policy in Egypt and the Middle East, as (China abandoned its old strategy based on ideological considerations), and adopted a completely different new policy in defining its allies based on the principle of utilitarianism (pragmatism), and a strategy (openness and exit regionally and globally), at the level on the regional level, China has adopted a policy of (good neighborliness), in order to achieve two goals:
The first goal: smashing the sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies, and to thwart the attempt to contain and isolate China.
The second goal: preparing the regional environment to be an environment conducive to achieving development at this stage of the (Chinese rise), which is called (building the four moderns), which means progress in industry, agriculture, technology and national defense, which is what it was called, according to the speech Chinese President “Xi Jinping”, known as: (the politics of socialist modernization)().
On the US side, all indications indicate that (the new Biden administration) is heading to adopt (hard-line policies towards China). During his confirmation session in the US Senate, the new Secretary of Defense in the (Joe Biden administration) era, General (Lloyd Austin), described China as a “growing danger, and that confronting it would be one of the most prominent directions of the Pentagon’s activities” in the Biden era.
As for National Security Adviser (Jake Sullivan), he indicated – in an interview with the Peace Institute in Washington on January 29, 2021 – that “the Chinese believe that their model is more successful than the American model, and this is what they are promoting around the world ().
Here, the final analysis of the Egyptian researcher indicates that, both (Egypt and Israel will inevitably be affected by the continuing confrontation between Washington and Beijing), especially since the two great powers, the American and Chinese, are in the process of “a new cold war, but it is not like the Soviet-American cold war, because the economies of the two countries are highly complex interconnected with All countries of the world, which will negatively affect Egypt, Israel and all countries of the Middle East. We do not deal with China now as a closed country like the Soviet Union that can be contained by closing the door on it”. It also doubles the risk of the two powers colliding on the world, their huge economic interdependence and the influence of the rest of the world by it.
Hence, (the continued desire of Egypt, Israel and all countries in the region to deal economically with China and with Washington in many other files, especially in various political aspects), this will negatively affect everyone, especially in light of the United States’ desire to preserve its position as the largest military power. And economic issues in the world, which leads some to pressure (adopting zero-sum equations in its relationship with China, which is struggling economically and militarily in the Middle East).
Perhaps this explains the reasons for the visit of the former US Secretary of State during the Trump’s administration, “Mike Pompeo”, in his first foreign visit after the outbreak of the new Corona virus crisis to Israel on May 13, 2020, when “Pompeo” came to express the US’s concern about the Chinese – Israeli rapprochement – “which exposes the Israelis interests to danger”, as he put it. And most importantly, “Mike Pompeo” not only expressed his concern to the Israeli government, but also deliberately (made his speech in Israel a launching pad for addressing the countries of the region that intend any rapprochement with China (). As a result of this speech, the government of Israeli Prime Minister (Benjamin Netanyahu) withdrew, on May 26, 2020, the tender for establishing a water desalination project in Israel from the Chinese company “Hutcheson”.
The White House also addressed the Israeli government headed by (Benjamin Netanyahu) and alerted it to the necessity (to restrict the volume of Chinese investments in Israel, as it is a sign of danger threatening its strategic alliance with Israel).
According to the final evaluation of the Egyptian researcher, it is noted that (not all government corridors in Israel stand on one position in front of the file of direct Chinese investments between the two parties), for( two reasons), as follows:
The first reason: It is not convinced with the considerations presented by the United States to defend its position, which prompted some Israeli institutions to call the US position “phobia and fear of China”.
The second reason: China is offering huge investment packages (without Israel offering any corresponding political concessions), such as: settling the Palestinian issue in contrast to the European position, or the progressive democratic position in the United States.
Based on this analysis, it can be concluded that (Washington will continue its pressure on all countries in the region, especially its ally Israel to sever its relationship with China). However, Israel, Egypt and all countries in the region are determined to benefit commercially from the Chinese side, and also to deal with Washington, and try to Both (Egypt, Israel and all countries avoid confrontation or support with or against any of them, whether American or Chinese, while continuing to deal with them economically and politically, according to the interests of each country separately, to reflect this on the national security of countries).
The impact of prioritizing “no pressures and orientation policy to the East” relationships on the future of the Egyptian and American collaboration
China began searching for (a new strategic concept of engagement in the Middle East), shortly after the (Obama administration) announced the (transformation from the Middle East region and its gradual withdrawal from it towards the continent of Asia) in 2011().
In 2012, “Wang Jisi”, the most prominent Chinese foreign policy commentator, proposed a concept he called “Westernization”, writing that: “as Washington rebalances Asia, the relationship between America and China has become increasingly controversial and based on a zero-sum conclusion” ().
Chinese diplomat “Wang Jisi” adding that: “This brings us to talk about” the new Chinese vision of the world: from geo-economics to geopolitics”.
By studying the bilateral interaction between “two strategic forces” that are effective for Egypt and the region, with a hypothetical consideration of the Arab world and Egypt at the heart of it, and it is considered (a variable dependent on the influence of two independent variables, namely “Chinese rise” and “American unilateralism”). Hence, it can be considered (the Egyptian shift eastward towards China and Russia to ease American and Western pressure on it) depends on several Chinese factors in the first place, namely:
1.The extent to which China’s economic power will increase and its role, presence and influence will increase in the coming period in the Middle East.
2.The most important thing that drives Beijing’s policies towards Egypt and the region is “achieving the goal and the mutual benefit of all parties, and not imposing their policies or agendas with threats and imposing sanctions on countries such as Washington”, so China generally focuses on areas of mutual cooperation in the economy, culture, security and technology().
3.The most important thing for the Egyptian researcher in the future is (the extent to which Beijing is able to develop itself to defend its allies and partners such as Egypt and others, in the event that any Chinese ally is exposed to any unsecured confrontation with Washington, and is China really ready to defend Egypt and its allies?)().
4.Here we find that this growth in Sino-Egyptian and Arab relations, and what appears to be (adopting the policy of heading east), behind it is a high Egyptian realization that (the world will not continue on the unipolar system, and that the world system is in its current state – especially in a post-world world). The Corona pandemic and the United States’ retreat in its internal affairs – has begun to move strongly towards “multipolarity”, of which China is one of its most prominent components. Therefore, the freedom of Egyptian foreign policy is in “diversifying alternatives”, and this growing trend is also reinforced by many intransigent American positions towards Issues of the region and the world, and among the most prominent of these American positions:
1.The trade war that the US administration set up for former President (Trump) against China and the European Union, and the extent of (its international influences on Egypt and the Middle East, and issues of international trade freedom).
2.The withdrawal of the American administration and its disavowal of its commitments on matters that have been internationally agreed upon, such as those related to (climate change, and its lack of respect for international legitimacy decisions and the international law system).
3.Washington and “Trump’s administration” declared alone that (Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and the announcement of the transfer of the American embassy to Jerusalem), which angered and angered Egypt and all Arabs, and Middle Eastern countries against American policies that contravene United Nations and international community decisions, as well as (the American Presidency’s issuance of decisions that have affected other Arab countries like Syria that is not subject to its sovereignty), And the last of which was that internationally unacceptable decision, contrary to international legitimacy and laws, which was issued by the United States of America (granting the Golan to Israel, as if the Golan is a piece of American territory)().
In my personal opinion – as an expert in Chinese political affairs – this is the focal point on which any future analysis depends on (the Egyptian orientation towards the east towards China or Russia), and this is what entails the necessity of (studying, monitoring and analyzing shifts in the Chinese political role in Egypt and the Arab region. It has now become a focal area in China’s new foreign policy, especially with the Chinese decision-maker realizing that the American presence and increase in influence and penetration in Egypt and the Arab world may be directed against its interests and that it embodies some of the American efforts to contain China by Egypt and the Arabs).
The Implications of the accelerating and doubling of the economic growth between Egypt and China on the relationships with the USA
Many “Chinese foreign policy thinkers” were very concerned about the risks that would be counterproductive to an ambitious Chinese project such as the Belt and Road Initiative in the Middle East. (The Chinese strategists) understood the logic of (harnessing the country’s economic power for political benefit), but they were afraid of being entangled in a web of national and sectarian rivalries in the region. Especially, with the majority of Chinese political analyzes indicating that avoiding such an outcome is no easy task. The Middle East has been a dilemma for many of the world’s major powers, including the United States of America and Britain.
Hence, the Egyptian researcher understood – as a specialist in Chinese political affairs – that China’s goal is (to achieve influence without getting involved in the Middle East, through the Belt and Road Initiative, which succeeded brilliantly in achieving China’s agenda). Although there are – several countries in the Middle East, including problems with regional neighboring countries, such as: (Iran and Israel) – included in the list of countries supporting the Belt and Road Initiative, nevertheless, all of these countries have committed in one way or another to partnering with China, and this alone should be (a warning bell and a big fear for Washington). All of these countries do not agree on almost anything, but they all support closer relations with China.
However, despite the remarkable achievements that have been achieved through the (Chinese Belt and Road Initiative) in the Middle East and Egypt over the past five years, the Chinese “Belt and Road Initiative” still faces many doubts from Washington about (Chinese influence in the region).
The United States began promoting and intimidating slogans of “Chinese imperialism”, claiming that “China is using sovereign debt to obey other countries that received Chinese financial aid to their will and pass their policy”. However, Washington’s allegations regarding the alleged“Chinese imperialism”lack scrutiny and further empirical evidence for them ().
Hence, (the acceleration of economic growth in the relations of Egypt and the countries of the region with China will inevitably affect relations with Washington in the future), as all the existing indicators and data confirms and anticipated expectations that Egyptian and Arab cooperation with China is a matter of great importance and is on the way to a stage leading to rise and expansion, This was called by all Chinese officials in the various official occasions. Officials in China always assert that (if East Asia, in which China is located, unites with North Africa in which Egypt and the Arab countries are located, this will affect the course of international events, and it will contribute. In reaching multipolarity, which is something that the United States does not want in order not to affect its control over the Arab region in particular and the whole world in general)?
Egyptian courtship to China as a great power and its implications on the American and Israeli interests in the Middle East
There was a great fear in China that the great openness to Egypt and the Middle East would provoke (antagonizing the other great powers, especially Washington). This was confirmed by the Chinese researcher (Zhi Zhang), who wrote in the “Global Times” in 2013, that “the Chinese strategy of immersion in the Middle East will inevitably harm the Chinese relations with Russia and America and lead China to invest in “dangerous fields”, hence, “China shouldn’t take a big step in opening up to the Middle East”, according to the analysis of the Chinese researcher (Zhang)().
Egypt and all Gulf countries, including (Saudi Arabia and the UAE), also used “Huawei to build fifth-generation networks and communications infrastructure”, and all of them defied US pressure. (The UAE was the first foreign country to grant emergency approval for the (Covid-19) vaccine from (the Chinese company Sinopharm), and the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh (Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum) tweeted, taking a picture of himself apparently receiving an injection of that Chinese vaccine and not the other vaccines that Promoted by Washington and Britain.
This confirms the importance of the Chinese side to Egypt, without its funding and experience, it will become difficult to implement a number of prominent Egyptian projects such as (the new administrative capital, the new industrial zone of the Suez Canal, and the great activity of the Chinese giant “TEDA” in attracting hundreds of Chinese companies, and implementing Many Chinese projects in the Suez Canal area) on the ground. In return, China wishes to take advantage of Egypt’s position in the Arab world and Africa in order to facilitate bilateral and collective cooperation in both regions, including within the framework of projects supporting the “Belt and Road Initiative”. All this worries the United States, especially with (the American warning about the possibility of China using its accessibility to the Egyptian and Arab ports and the Suez Canal as a vital global shipping corridor, in order to improve its position in the Middle East and perhaps collect intelligence information about American interests, similar to Washington’s concerns about the activity of China in the Haifa port in Israel, and the extent of its impact on the American and Israeli national security), given that Israel is Washington’s first ally in the region().
Hence, the rapprochement of Egypt and the Arabs as a whole and their flirtation with the Chinese pole, will have its future effects, especially with the candidacy of China to be a great power with a prominent global role in light of the current international reality, just as all Arabs need to strengthen their negotiating position and their national entity in the face of the United States and the West. And Arab issues, on top of which (the Arab-Israeli conflict), Palestinian rights, and a number of thorny and unresolved issues between Palestinians and Israelis, such as: (building settlements and the return of Palestinian refugees), and others. Therefore, we find that the interests of the Chinese, Egyptian and Arab parties are necessary to preserve the rights of all parties in the face of American and Western hegemony, and the similar Egyptian-Arab-Chinese conditions, exposing them almost all to the same pressures and challenges.
Diversifying Egypt’s foreign policy and military options from China and the stance of the USA and Israel towards it
The current situation in the Middle East works mainly in favor of China and its economic priorities, as (Beijing is trying to gain influence in the Middle East region, while trying to distance as much as possible and avoid complex national rivalries and sectarian conflicts in the region). The United States of America spends huge sums of money to fight extremist groups and protect freedom of navigation in the Gulf countries and the maritime straits in the region, and here China directly benefits from the stability of oil prices. What China wants now is (maintaining this arrangement while gradually gaining the ability through its “Belt and Road Initiative” to pressure countries to side with it).
In a new development, the (Israeli National Security Studies Institute of Tel Aviv University) considered that the relations between Israel and the United States, after the entry of a new American administration led by (Joe Biden), are (under test), and this comes against the background of tensions with the new American administration relations with Israel, on specific foreign issues, and the significant erosion of Israel’s position as a consensus center between the two major parties in the United States, and “as the only democratic country in the Middle East”, as it has always promoted itself in the region().
With regard to the Egyptian-Chinese military cooperation and the extent of its impact on Washington and its ally (Israel), it is noted that this remarkable growth in economic relations between Egypt and China through China’s development projects in Egypt as part of its (Belt and Road initiative) has encouraged the leaderships in both countries towards more areas. A strategy, where it was discussed (the possibility of Cairo obtaining Chinese devices that were scheduled to operate within an American warning and jamming system, or China’s assistance to Egypt in providing it with advanced technology for Internet surveillance, especially monitoring extremist and terrorist elements on the Internet, and Egypt opened lines of communication several times with Beijing to establish a peaceful nuclear reactor in Alexandria, or to obtain Chinese arms, missiles and tanks deals), and other Chinese military equipment().
Egypt is considered (the most major military power in the Middle East and at the same time among the most important markets for Chinese weapons). According to the “China Power” project launched by the (Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington), all African countries, including Egypt (the first destination for Chinese weapons) in Africa, represent (42%) of the total Chinese military exports ().
– In the context of the “Belt and Road Initiative”, as the American researcher emphasized in her well-known book, entitled: “The Chinese Eurasian Century?: The Political and Strategic Implications of the Belt and Road Initiative”, which is written by the American academic (Nadij Rowland), as an expert in security and political affairs at the “National Bureau for Asian Research” – she is actually visited Egypt in 2019, as she mentioned in her book – and the American researcher (Roland) and other colleague of hers involved in the research conducted an interview that had already taken place in Cairo with a Chinese diplomat, at the Beijing embassy in Egypt, in January 2019 – it is important to remember and understand (According to the analysis of the researcher, “Nadig Roland”), that:
Promoting (regional development in Egypt, Africa, and the developing Arab countries, is not considered a way to encourage political openness, rather it is on the contrary, it is a means to strengthen the existing authoritarian regimes, arm them militarily and install them around China)… Hence, the Chinese intercontinental infrastructure will be helped through the (Belt and Road initiative) to prevent potential disruptions to the maritime supply in the event of conflict. Consolidating China’s strategic space will help counter the alleged U.S.-led efforts to contain the country’s emergence. Going beyond these tangible goals, the Belt and Road Initiative also seeks to (meet the broader regional ambition, to establish a European-Asian system centered on China), and with it – China’s military relations with various countries and regions of the world, such as the Middle East and Egypt, are imperative to protect China’s interests and defense. About it – and achieving security and political stability for the existing Chinese projects within the framework of its Belt and Road Initiative ().
China’s cooperation on the security and defense levels is expanding in the Arab world and Egypt, especially with the increase in its economic presence in those countries. (Chinese marine projects, especially projects for the production of Chinese submarine cables in the Arab world and the Middle East, constitute a key element in China’s focus on communication and information communication with the various countries of the region). For example, (the Chinese marine network company, Huawei, delivered the “Hannibal” cable linking Tunisia and Italy, in addition to another important cable linking Libya and Greece). This matter has generated concerns in the United States of America and the West about (the danger of using Chinese commercial investments for non-commercial and military intelligence activities in the countries of the Middle East), such as: (gathering intelligence information for China through “military maritime cooperation projects in the Mediterranean countries”, such as this. It seriously harms the security of Washington and its bases in the Arab Gulf and affects the American influence in the Middle East ().
We can recognize (the first actual Chinese military involvement in the Middle East in Libya after the Libyan revolution and other Arab Spring revolutions in 2011), when (the People’s Liberation Army Navy helped evacuate about 40,000 Chinese workers from Libya), before the organization of “NATO” began to launch air strikes. After that (joint Chinese-Russian military exercises) took place in 2015 in the Mediterranean region. In 2017, China opened (its first military base outside the country in the state of Djibouti, to protect its ships and economic interests from Somali piracy and to protect the straits and sea lanes of strategic importance to China in the Arabian Gulf and the Middle East). In January 2018, two warships from (the 27th Chinese Naval Guard Group visited a number of countries in the Middle East and North Africa, as a part of four-month Chinese military expeditionarycruise)for supporting the naval military cooperation with the Middle East and Mediterranean countries().
Here, we find that (Egypt’s tendency to military cooperation with China) has of course aroused (the objection and anger of Washington, which expressed its dissatisfaction with the Egyptian-Chinese relations, especially the military, on more than one occasion), especially – with an attempt to retrieve an old military incident that has a deep significance for the fear Washington from the growing military relationship of Cairo with Beijing – and this dangerous incident which the United States considers a threat to its national security and the security of its ally “Israel” in the region – is (Cairo’s permission for a Chinese delegation to visit an Egyptian base containing American F-16s, without Washington’s knowledge), according to what was mentioned in a secret letter from (the Washington embassy in Cairo and its military attaché) to the US Secretary of State (Hillary Clinton) in 2009().
Hence, we find that based on the previous military and strategic analysis, we find that (the balance of power is the basic component of China’s vision towards a pragmatic and productive world order). And as part of the most important recommendations about Egypt’s new military policies during the era of (President El-Sisi), that China itself seeks to increase its influence and presence in the region at the expense of the US gradual withdrawal from it. Therefore, the importance of adopting and training on the “Chinese military model and the nature of the formation of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army”. As a matter of weight and strategic consideration in the future, and here we can refer to a different analytical aspect, namely, “China is adopting a development model that seeks to integrate authoritarianism with economic growth, which is a model that has appeal to political regimes and leaders across the Middle East and North Africa region”. Therefore, The importance of (security, military, training, and the joint defense cooperation between the Egyptian regime and its Chinese counterpart to integrate the working mechanism of their political and economic systems, and the political legitimacy and popular acceptance that follow this kind of cooperation), given what the leaders and military in the region say, that the Arab masses are not yet qualified for the modes of liberal democracy. Western countries are based on the American and European style. Hence, military dealing with China is the best option for Egypt and all countries in the region under (the American administration led by “Joe Biden” and its interference in the affairs of Egypt and the region internally).
And here, foreign analysts and experts point out that “governments in Europe and the United States should watch carefully the phenomenon of China’s involvement in North Africa and the Middle East, and they should closely analyze all those Chinese military moves, relations and partnerships as well for the danger of this in reducing the US-European global influence”.
Bolstering political legitimacy at home in front of the Western intervention after the removal of the Muslim Brotherhood regime and the success of the 30th June Revolution in Egypt
Talking about China as a “model” that expresses the Egyptian regime’s desire to learn from its experience is to draw closer to it and close cooperation with it – especially on the Suez Canal – in the fields of technology, investments, trade, maritime transport and tourism. In addition, the comparison with China aims to (enhance the Egyptian public’s confidence in the positive results of the recovery and economic reform plan that President “El-Sisi” has been pursuing since November 2016 in cooperation with the International Monetary Fund). Hence, attachment to Chinese success aims to achieve a broad general consensus for firm Egyptian economic measures, which China also went through in its early developmental beginnings – on top of which is the reduction of government subsidies for fuel and food products – that will give the basis for their fruits in the medium – long term.
Raising the Chinese model to the level of a supreme ideal serves the Egyptian economic agenda on the other hand: it allows granting legitimacy to the current political model, with the emphasis it places on (the importance of achieving stability and not compromising Egypt’s security for any reason, combating terrorism and extremism, and confronting the hidden extremist agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist group, moving towards development and construction), and other Egyptian economic institutional mechanisms, arrangements and procedures similar to the beginnings of the Chinese development model, focusing less on the issue of freedoms and democracy, and not allowing Washington and the West to interfere in the internal affairs of Egypt in this regard. In a series of articles published by (Gamal Abdel-Gawad), the former president of the “Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies”, he emphasized in his analyzes that Egypt favors (the authoritarian Chinese model over the Indian democratic model, given the size of the security and political challenges that Egypt faces at that delicate stage), because the Chinese model has proven itself as a guarantee to maintain (the stability and security of the state with the achievement of high rates of accelerated economic development). Indeed, the legitimacy upon which the Egyptian regime is based of its citizens is based on (their confidence in its security and economic achievements, and not on the basis of establishing a parliamentary democracy according to the Western model)().
In addition, China is similar in its beginnings to Egypt, and with its nomination and the possibility of its transformation into a global superpower, this matter in the eyes of Egyptians is considered evidence of the importance for Egypt to adopt this Chinese model in order to gain progress, while emphasizing at the same time that (the Egyptian state is like its Chinese counterpart can design a national model that fits with their heritage, needs and values).
Promoting the issue of matching the Chinese model with Egypt also has regional effects, as we find that in recent years the question has been raised: Can the Chinese development model challenge, and even replace, the Western model that promotes free market values and liberal democracy concepts in developing countries?, Accordingly, the victory of the Egyptian President (El-Sisi) in the presidential elections in March 2018, and the success of the popular referendum on amending the Egyptian constitution in April 2019, all of this as sparked a dispute over (the appropriate model for Egypt and Arab countries in the era after the Arab Spring).
On the other hand, Egypt defended (its orientation towards the ideal Chinese model for it), which derives its inspiration from (the Chinese model, as a system that guarantees order, security, material well-being, national honor and international status), which is the same what the Egyptian regime seeks internally and externally similar to China.
Hence, it is noted that (the Chinese model) plays a media role about the efforts of those in charge of reforming the Egyptian economy to gain public legitimacy for Egypt’s successful economic steps, which are supposed to bear fruit in the medium and long term. And the media dependence on promoting the Chinese economic model, especially in its beginnings and the size of the stumbling and the crises it witnessed, in reference to the extent of its similarity with the beginnings of the Egyptian economic model, and what it targets in the future().
The Egyptian researcher concludes that, at this stage, it appears that Egypt is seeking to (integrate the elements of the Western development model and the Chinese development model), which resembles in some of its economic advantages the Western ones, but rejects its political advantages. Hence, President El-Sisi seeks to emphasize this strategy, especially during the coming period, considering that (the success of this strategy is a real key to Egypt’s economic prosperity and its salvation from its crises, similar to the Chinese model).
Collaboration between Egypt and China in counter-terrorism and combating extremism in the Middle East and its impact on the U.S and Israeli relationships
It is remarkable that China has succeeded diplomatically in its battle in the Middle East in order to (win over and neutralize all Muslim countries in the Middle East, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, regarding non-interference in China’s internal affairs, and what Washington and the West are raising against Beijing and its policies in the “Xinjiang”regionand the way of its treatment of the Uyghur Muslims in this province ((. For example, we find that in 2019, I commend the visit of Saudi Crown Prince (Mohammed bin Salman) to China, praising China’s domestic policies to “combat internal terrorism in the Chinese Muslim province of Xinjiang”. China also succeeded in “co-opting and neutralizing Turkey”, and the Turkish President “Ragab Tayyip Erdogan” on the issue of the “Chinese Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang Province”, just a few years ago, Turkey was a prominent defender of the Uyghur Muslims in China, and the Turkish promotion of them, considering them (a Turkish people with a community Big in Istanbul). But, there was a sudden change in the position of the Turkish President (Erdogan) and his silence towards China regarding the “Xinjiang” region, with some international indications that (the Turkish police have arrested hundreds of Uyghur refugees by order of China), with the severe crisis in the Turkish economy and other Muslim economies In the Middle East, everyone, including Egypt of course, has sacrificed to depend more deeply than ever on Chinese investment and trade, by announcing everyone to join the Chinese (Belt and Road) initiative.
On the (Israeli side), almost the same issue applies to “the official Tel Aviv institutions regarding their handling of the Uyghur Muslim file in Xinjiang”, with Israel resisting the increasing American pressure against it to limit its commercial dealings with China. We find here a severe Israeli challenge to Washington through (Tel Aviv’s insistence on subjecting the important strategic “Haifa Port” to an operating lease agreement with a Chinese state-owned company for a period of 25 years). The Israeli government rejected several American requests to inspect and inspect the Israeli facility leased by the Beijing government. China is also investing hundreds of millions of dollars in the Israeli technology sector, despite the previous (Trump administration) campaign, which lasted for a long time, to persuade Israel of “the necessity of China’s withdrawal from the important strategic projects in Tel Aviv” ().
On the Israeli side, Tel Aviv has exploited (the presence of more than five thousand Muslim Uighur citizens from the Chinese Xinjiang region who have been recruited into the “ISIS terrorist organization in Syria and Iraq” for the war inside Syria) through (Israel’s attempt to strengthen security relations, exchange intelligence and the anti-terrorism file, and the extremist jihadist organizations between Israel and China regarding its terrorist citizens in Syria). Israel has found in its relations with China an important element to improve its strategic environment in the midst of common borders hostile to it in the Arab world, and the relationship with China may certainly help it in one way or another in the event of tension in Israel’s relations. The country of Iran, which aspires to possess nuclear capabilities, is a close ally of Beijing.
Here, we find that the growth of bilateral relations between China and Israel has repercussions and adverse effects on Egypt and the Arab world, because (the concordance of vital interests between the two countries, especially those related to security arrangements, may contribute to Israel’s penetration of Arab national security, and the establishment of international and regional axes hostile to the Arabs). Tel Aviv’s future security and military strategy is based on (the psychological penetration of Egypt and the Arab world in terms of their strategic ally, “China”, which opposes and competes with Washington’s policy, because of China’s traditional and historical relations with the Arabs, as well as the strategic importance of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative as a location close to the belt Islamic), specifically “Pakistan and the Arabian Peninsula”, or what is currently known as (the Arab Gulf states)().
From the days of all previous Israeli prime ministers, such as: (Ben Gurion, Golda Meir, passing through Levi Eshkol, Yitzhak Rabin and Manachem Begin, to Ehud Barak, Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Olmert), there was an eternal Israeli conviction and still says that (Israel is in danger in the shadow of the hostile Arab environment). Consequently, protecting and preserving the “Hebrew state”, financially and spiritually, and consolidating its future and perpetuating its existence, through consolidating its international alliances with great powers such as China, is an issue that occupies the forefront of the (Israeli security thinking)().
Here, Israeli strategic thought does not neglect the growing dangers of what the Israelis describe as “Islamic fundamentalism” or “religious terrorism” in the region and directing it against Israeli targets in the Israeli depth, specifically by “Hamas and Islamic Jihad”. The issue of the increase in the power and influence of political Islam in the region in general, especially with the entry of China as a powerful and influential actor to combat fundamentalist terrorism such as Israel’s goals in the region, with the recruitment of thousands of Chinese Uyghur Muslims in the terrorist organization of “ISIS” in Syria and the Middle East, and linking China with Israel with an agenda Security cooperation to fight what is known as “global terrorism”, which is able to penetrate into the Israeli and Chinese depths itself).
Hence, one of the main challenges that were on the list of topics that were discussed and analyzed within the Israeli decision-making circles is (partnership and cooperation with China and Egypt also on the issue of combating terrorism), discussion and evaluation of the impact of fundamentalist terrorism in Syria and the region on the (Israel – Egypt – China) interests and their national security ().
Here we conclude that the subject of (the new Chinese partnership with Egypt, Israel and some countries in the region for cooperation in the issue of combating terrorism and its extremist organizations and their extensions in the Middle East region has posed a challenge in itself against Washington), which (China considers its rising strategic enemy according to the American national security document issued by The Pentagon in 2018), therefore, (the partnership and security cooperation between Beijing and Tel Aviv on the issue of combating terrorism in the region, as a top priority for Washington to monitor the impact of this security, intelligence and military cooperation between China, Israel, Egypt and the region on its security and intelligence arrangements and its impact on the future of their alliances In the Middle East). Especially with the overlap between a set of political, economic, and strategic factors and internal considerations for such Chinese cooperation with Israel, Egypt and the region, and all of them stand against the terrorist fundamentalist penetration and its extension within their own countries.
Analysis of the future Implications of the Egyptian closeness with China on the U.S. and Israeli policies in the Middle East region
The United States of America has worked to “disengage gradually from the Middle East” during the past years, according to a carefully studied American strategic plan to devote itself to competing with China in Asia.
And here remains (the future fear of America and Israel together about the Sino-Iranian alliance and the attraction and partnership of Shiite organizations throughout the region to China for reasons similar to the attraction and Iranian justifications for its rapprochement with Beijing). They all see China as a strategic counterweight to America. In an important article by the Iraqi Minister of Electricity “Louai Al-Khatib” in October 2019, he acknowledged that “China is our primary choice as a long-term strategic partner”. A number of other paramilitary Shiite groups from Iraq and Syria (Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq) to Lebanon (Hezbollah) have repeatedly praised China and demanded an increase in Chinese investments in the region as a “rebuke and strong message to America in the region and the unwillingness of its presence and the need for its withdrawal in favor of China”.
Perhaps the most prominent (future impact on Israel and the United States of America regarding rapprochement with China), for here it mainly appears in Israel within the (Israeli neoliberal political school), as this school believes that (regional and international economic cooperation through intra-trade and joint economic projects, and mutual investments with Major powers other than Washington, such as China in the first place, create an environment conducive to cooperation and increase incentives for countries more than conflict, and this ultimately leads to the creation of a state of mutual dependence that can be exploited politically to make trade-offs and bargains in security, military and strategic files)().
Here, the Egyptian researcher analyzed the existence of (indirect effects on the Egyptian-Chinese rapprochement on Israel, the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the overall effect of this on the future of relations with Washington), where (such a rapprochement between China and the various countries of the Middle East is employed, and on Egypt headed it in the Israeli decision-making circles with the aim of dissolving the conflict instead of solving it radically through joint regional economic projects, and with the help of China’s capital, as one of the countries of the world center), and the final outcome remains (the Israeli expansion into new poles of global capital, especially China, and its expansion into Central Asia and the Caucasus), but this, of course, is what Washington rejects in its fight against such Chinese influence and penetration in Israel, the Middle East, the Asian continent itself or the Asian periphery of China’s environment, by forming (regional alliances against China’s influence in partnership with Washington), and this applies in cases, such as: (India, South Korea, Vietnam, Japan, the Philippines), and others.
Here, we find that one of the most important (foundations of the Israeli security theory is closer relations with the major and active countries in the world, and the creation of international and regional alliances that contribute to stabilizing their presence, strengthening their military capabilities, and subsequently helping them to encircle the Arab world). Therefore, we find that one of the most important military and strategic alliances that Israel has forged with the outside world was the alliance with China, which caused many turmoil and crises between the United States of America and its first ally in the region, which is Israel, due to (the fears of those in Washington about such a rapprochement between Beijing and Tel Aviv refer to the decline of the US role and influence in the region in favor of China), especially Washington’s regional allies, such as: (Egypt, the Arab Gulf states).
Results and conclusions of the study
Through a detailed analysis of all the previous points and elements in the research paper,the Egyptian researcher briefly concluded that the relations of Egypt and the countries of the Middle East region with China, through its initiative for the Belt and Road, and the joining of all those countries with relations with them (including Israel) are of concern to the United States of America, for the following reasons:
1.These countries view with the (new global trend in the east of China, which serves their economic ambitions and interests).
2.The importance of the Chinese initiative to Egypt and the region, and its project known internationally as (Belt and Road), and this project contains a (trade hub) that enhances China’s commercial presence in world markets through the (Egyptian Suez Canal axis), in a way that helps it to open new markets for it and access to the world Through the Egyptian side.
1.The importance of the (monetary axis) of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative, which (seeks to make the currency of Chinese “Yuan” as a global currency), in a way that frees the world economy- Egypt and the Middle East as an important part of it – from relying on the US dollar, as a global payment currency.
2.In addition to the fact that the Chinese initiative also has (a geopolitical and strategic split, then a defensive military axis as we analyzed in our research paper to defend the interests and investments of China), so that it can (link Egypt with all countries of the world through which this road passes) with close relations through their common partnership With China.
3.The United States of America looks with concern as a result of (the increasing influence and military presence of China, and defense partnerships between Beijing, Cairo, Israel and various countries in the Middle East), as China is no longer limited in its cooperation with Egypt and the countries of North Africa and the Middle East in the economic and cultural fields only, but has gone beyond to it, and includes both (diplomatic and defense) fields as well.
4.Beijing’s desire (to preserve the security and stability of the Middle East and its investments) there, pushed the Egyptian-Chinese military relations more deeply, and Beijing increased the volume of its military and defense exports to Cairo and the region, which have become more diversified, such as: (weapons, military equipment, Internet surveillance and espionage devices to control terrorist elements, cells, their organizations and distributions) and others.
5.Moreover, China adopts (a development model that seeks to integrate political authoritarianism with patterns, policies, programs, and reforms of economic growth), in order to gain (acceptance and political legitimacy among its citizens and the masses), which is considered by many Egyptian and foreign analysts themselves as a more close model to Cairo politically, economically and in the media, during the period of (President El-Sisi) and it is a model that (promoted by a number of political regimes throughout the Middle East and North Africa).
Accordingly, it is likely that the growing role of China in Egypt, Israel, North Africa and the Middle East countries will have economic and geopolitical repercussions that are very influential in the countries of the region and around the world, especially in the context of (the US-China rivalry), and Egypt will maintain its influence, as well as From the other countries of the region, it is the (balance point) in Beijing’s relations with Washington and pushing it towards (pluralism and distance from hegemony and unilateralism). Its inevitable result becomes that China’s relations with the United States in the framework of (searching for areas of influence and securing interests) either lead to more (cooperation or Conflict) between the two parties, and the most important thing in my final analysis is (the extent of each party’s ability to attract others in a good framework of competition and pluralism, far from the idea of unilateral hegemony) in consideration of everyone’s interests.
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Elections in Syria: Forgetting Old Resentments?
In the presidential elections on May 26, Bashar al-Assad won more than 95% of the votes. According to the current constitution, this term will be the last for the president. But in the next seven years of Bashar al-Assad’s rule, the constitution may change, and it is far from certain that this will happen as a result of the work of the Syrian Constitutional Committee, with UN mediation. The victory of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was accompanied by congratulations from allies and a lack of recognition of the election results by Western countries. In any event, what is the attitude towards this war-torn country and its ruling elites in the Arab world? Will Bashar al-Assad be able to rebuild the country and deliver it from chaos?
Forgetting old resentments. From balance of power to balance of interests
Through regional recognition lies the path to global recognition. It is necessary in some form for the reconstruction of Syria, the cost of which is estimated at more than $250 billion. Syria’s allies do not have such funds, and the West links the provision of funds for the country’s reconstruction with conditions for a political settlement of the conflict, which the current authorities will not agree to. In the absence of economic reconstruction, however, there is a threat of the re-activation of the defeated terrorists. In this context, the role of the rich oil monarchies of the Persian Gulf—the most promising source of money—becomes especially significant.
Syria is traditionally called the “heart” of the Arab world. This, nevertheless, did not prevent other Arab countries from responding to the unfolding violence in Syria by freezing its membership in an important regional structure, the Arab League, in 2011. Speaking about the return of Syria to the Arab League, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said: “Arab diplomacy is very, very famous for its effectiveness, so it seems to me that here we can expect that the issue will be resolved, and, I hope, quite quickly.” However, there are a number of factors that can support this process, and constraints that can hinder it.
The conversation about the return of Syria to the Arab League has been going on for several years—since it became clear that Bashar al-Assad will be able to keep power in his hands. This became obvious to regional and global players with the defeat of terrorists and opposition, with the active support of the Syrian leadership from Iran and Russia. In addition, compared to 2011, the situation has changed in the Arab League itself. In Egypt, the largest country in the Arab world, the secular regime of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (who has roots in the military), is now in power, and not the anti-Assad-minded Islamists from the Muslim Brotherhood (banned in the Russian Federation). A number of Arab League member states like Algeria, Iraq and Lebanon have never been against Syria, and now actively advocate its return to the organisation. The Gulf monarchies have gone through a decade of reassessing challenges and threats.
Conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Yemen have led to the strengthening of the regional rivals of the Arab states of the Gulf—Turkey and Iran. The expansion of these major regional powers is forcing the UAE, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries to seek new approaches. In the context of Syria, this means the Arab rejection of the Turkish occupation of Syrian (and, therefore, Arab) land in northern Syria. At the same time, the rulers of the Arabian Peninsula are thinking about whether it is worth it to push Syria into the hands of Iran, if they can try to return it to the “Arab homeland” and balance the Iranian influence on Damascus. The UAE, Bahrain and Oman have already reopened their embassies in Damascus, but so far Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the two key countries that oppose Syria in the Arab League, are in no hurry to do the same. In any event, the Saudis are increasingly inclined towards a partial return of relations. It is clear from some of their actions. For example, we are talking about the restoration of ties between Bahrain and Damascus, since the policy of Bahrain is a litmus test of Riyadh’s aspirations. In early May, there were reports about the visit of the head of the general intelligence service of Saudi Arabia, Khalid bin Ali al-Humaidan, to Damascus. In late May, for the first time in 10 years, a Syrian delegation led by Minister of Tourism Mohammad Rami Martini made an official visit to Riyadh to participate in the work of the World Tourism Organisation Committee for the Middle East.
The results of the presidential elections in Syria once again remind the Arab states that they will have to work with Bashar al-Assad and his government.
Obviously, Damascus is ready to forget old grievances. Among other things, Arab nationalist rhetoric is extremely important for the ruling Baath Party. On the eve of the elections, Assad’s adviser Busseina Shaaban said: “Efforts are being made to improve relations between Damascus and Riyadh, and in the coming days we can witness results in this matter.” If Riyadh changes its position on the return of Syria to the Arab League, there will be only one Arab country opposing this—Qatar. Qatar’s non-Arab ally in the recently weakened regional confrontation is Turkey, which will also hinder this and continues to declare the need of a political settlement of the Syrian conflict. True, this is less and less possible, although the opinion of Turkey, which has more than 3.5 million registered Syrian refugees, is something to be reckoned with.
Veni, vidi, vici?
At the global level, Russia and the United States have different positions. Russia’s foreign policy advocates sovereignty, the return of Syria to the Arab League and its early restoration. But even if Syria returns to the League, it will not solve the economic problems of the country, where corruption is rampant, the currency continues to depreciate, there is barely enough electricity and fuel for the population to survive, and 80% of citizens remain below the poverty line. In addition, the Syrian economy will not receive serious injections, even from the Gulf countries, due to the policies and sanctions of the United States, which remains the hegemon in the region. However, it is precisely the regional recognition of Damascus that is extremely useful and can be considered as a step towards further stabilisation.
Even before the elections in Syria, the Americans, together with Britain, France, Germany and Italy, issued a joint statement about their illegitimacy. The sanctions adopted by the US Congress against Syria under the name “Caesar Act” are “secondary” in nature, which means that any third country doing business with the Syrian government is included in the US sanctions list. Companies from the UAE have already faced this problem, and potentially sanctions deprive Syria of any major projects with the Gulf States in the future. This issue is unsolvable at the regional level. Much depends on how the Americans are committed to the implementation of the sanctions regime.
An excessive US appetite for sanctions may hurt the interests of its regional allies, which will displease the latter (and not always tacitly).
At the moment, however, to quote the journalists of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, we observe “the absence of American leadership”: the United States is not engaged in promoting any active campaign to counter the normalisation of relations between Syria and other members of the international community. The previous pattern with regard to Syria remains—with the illegal presence of the American military in the east of the country, support for Kurdish groups, and the illegal use of Syrian resources.
The administration of US President Joe Biden has not yet formed a new course towards Syria, since this issue is not a priority for it. In these conditions, regional and interested global players have the opportunity to correct their positions, build up links with previously inaccessible actors, and make attempts to go beyond the existing restrictions.
Bashar al-Assad sent a message to the whole world that he is ready for a new stage. The world is no longer what it was a decade ago. At the regional level, the Arabs are thinking about accepting the existing reality, but at the global level, the Syria issue is not a priority. In his victory speech, al-Assad noted that the Syrian people “returned to the true meaning of the revolution” after it was “blotted by mercenaries”. It is obvious that Damascus persistently and patiently stands on its ground. Arabs say that patience is the key to joy. The only question is whose joy it is.
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