Foreign relations of Egypt

From Academic Kids

Egypt's foreign policy operates along a non-aligned level. Factors such as population size, historical events, military strength, diplomatic expertise and a strategic geographical position give Egypt extensive political influence in the Middle East and Northern Africa, and within the Nonaligned Movement as a whole. Cairo has been a crossroads of Arab commerce and culture for millennia, and its intellectual and Islamic institutions are at the center of the region's social and cultural development.

The Arab League headquarters is in Cairo, and the Secretary General of the League is traditionally an Egyptian. Former Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa is the present Secretary General of the Arab League. Egyptian Deputy Prime Minister Boutros Boutros-Ghali served as Secretary General of the United Nations from 1991 to 1996.

Egypt is a key partner in the search for peace in the Middle East and resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Then President of Egypt Anwar Sadat's groundbreaking trip to Israel in 1977, the 1978 Camp David Accords, and the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty represented a fundamental shift in the politics of the region; from a strategy of confrontation to one of peace as a strategic choice. Egypt was subsequently ostracized by other Arab states and ejected from the Arab League from 1979 to 1989. Egypt played an important role in the negotiations leading to the Madrid Peace Conference in 1991, which, under United States and Russian sponsorship, brought together all parties in the region to discuss Middle East peace. This support has continued to the present, with President Hosni Mubarak often intervening personally to promote peace negotiations. In 1996, he hosted the Sharm El-Sheikh "Summit of the Peacemakers" attended by President Bill Clinton and other world leaders. In 2000, he hosted two summits at Sharm El-Sheikh and one at Taba in an effort to resume the Camp David negotiations suspended in July of 2000, and in June 2003, Mubarak hosted President George W. Bush for another summit on Middle East peace process. Another summit was convened in Sharm El Sheik in early 2005, which was attended by Egypt, Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan. The Egyptian Chief of Intelligence, General Omar Suleiman, has played a substantial role in negotiations between the Israeli and Palestinian sides and is highly respected on both sides.

The Egyptian military provides indirect support for the foreign policy of Egypt in the region. Egypt is the strongest military power on the African continent, and the second largest in the Middle East, after Israel - (Source: Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies' annual Middle East Strategic Balance).

Egypt played a key role during the 1990-91 Gulf crisis. President Mubarak helped assemble the international coalition and deployed 35,000 Egyptian troops against Iraq to liberate Kuwait. The Egyptian contingent was the third largest in the coalition forces, after the U.S. and U.K. In the aftermath of the Gulf war, Egypt signed the Damascus declaration with Syria and the Gulf states to strengthen Gulf security. Egypt continues to contribute regularly to United Nations peacekeeping missions, most recently in East Timor, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Egypt, which has itself been the target of terrorist attacks, has been a key supporter of the U.S. war against terrorists and terrorist organizations such as Osama bin Ladin and al-Qaeda, and has supported the Iraqi Governing Council.

Egypt is on good terms with Libya and Sudan, its African neighbours, although it has a land dispute with Sudan over the Hala'ib Triangle, a small area of land on the Egypt-Sudan border on the Red Sea coast. Sudan claims the area, although the Egyptian military currently occupies it.

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