Stable Egypt key for security of UAE and GCC
ABU DHABI // New cooperation between Egypt and the GCC could be the start of a regional security system to work on solutions to conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa, diplomatic experts say.
The Abu Dhabi Strategic Debate on Monday heard that the GCC’s security depended greatly on a stable Egypt.
“Egypt, undoubtedly, is a very important country for the GCC,” said Dr Ibtisam Al Kitbi, a political science professor at UAE University and chair of the Emirates Policy Centre, which organised the debate.
“The political landscape in the region is witnessing many changes that impose the latest challenges on the security of Egypt and GCC countries. This makes the Egyptian-GCC rapprochement a preventive and developmental need.”
She said cooperation required creating a security system.
“Such a system, if it were to be established, would contribute to finding solutions to conflicts in the region and resolve current problems we are facing,” Dr Al Kitbi said.
“Such an interdependency in the Arab world sees greater stability in the region.”
Speaking on Sunday, Dr Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said Egypt’s return to security and development was of central importance to the entire region to create stability and a barrier to extremism.
“After years of instability Egypt is on its way to resuming its historic and necessary place at the centre of the Arab world,” he said.
“However, as long as Egypt’s economy remains fragile, it is important that the international community extends every means of support to the Egyptian government to prevent the country from backsliding into chaos and instability.”
Dr Gargash said the UAE and Saudi Arabia had shouldered a large share of the responsibility in supporting Egypt’s economic development. “Jobs and growth are the most effective safeguards against radical ideologies and sectarian hatred.”
Nabil Fahmy, founding dean of the School of Public Affairs at the American University of Cairo and former Egyptian foreign affairs minister, said the support received from Arabian Gulf countries demonstrated the importance of Egypt and its economy to the region.
“Change is happening in the Middle East and if countries embrace it it will be positive,” Mr Fahmy said. “A quarter of the Middle East lives in Egypt, so what happens there will affect the rest of the region more than any other country.”
But more work was needed. “We can’t rebuild Egypt without looking at regional circumstances,” Mr Fahmy said. “We still need to bring society together, bring in much more investment and tourism, and it won’t work for us or for the region unless Egypt regains its role – not by taking it away from anybody else.
“But our most important role in the Middle East has always been the intellectual value-added we bring to the region, so we need to become a model for Middle East states, particularly Arab states.”
Dr Al Kitbi said that when Egypt regained its position as a nationalist state that could provide development, it would have benefits for regional balance.
“Following the path of the Muslim Brotherhood is not in line with the GCC’s or the UAE’s vision,” she said.
“A nationalist Egypt contributes to stability in Iraq, Syria and Libya. We want to have an ally and have Egypt regain its original role, because once Egypt was weakened we had an imbalance in our region.”
Khaled Al Maeena, political analyst and editor-in-chief of the Saudi Gazette, said Egypt’s stability and security was crucial for the region.
“The time has come for it to be totally financially independent and have fiscal responsibility so that it can again be viewed as the Egypt that it was.”
Updated: October 20, 2014 04:00 AM