An analysis of Egyptian foreign policy under Mursi’s presidency at this early moment aims to uncover its future and strategic direction, as this direction will influence the entire region, as every country is related to Egypt, the heart of the Arab world.In order to make the analysis it is necessary to determine the variables that hold priority and control this foreign policy, is it security, religion, economy, regional role, engagement with the West, or Arab-Israeli conflict?
Revolutionary systems usually tend toward revolutionary foreign policies as a result of many factors: the struggle for legitimacy between revolutionary groups, enthusiasm and lack of political experience, the need to commit to the revolutionary discourse which the revolutionaries claimed during the struggle against the old system, the power of extremists within revolutionary movements during the first period as they hold legitimacy of achieving the victory, the attempt to divert public attention from internal challenges by magnifying external threats, and finally the ideology of revolutionary groups, their world view and role conception , which motivate the other factors.
It is worth noting that the foreign policy of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is not revolutionary at all, except in its discourse. They are presenting a positive position toward the US and international institutions, engaging with Turkey and Gulf states, dealing cautiously with Hamas, ignoring Israeli violations and recognizing the Camp David peace treaty, adopting a “cold” policy toward Iran and an aggressive one toward the Syrian regime. This early pragmatism can be explained by many factors:
The Muslim Brotherhood separates its vision for internal policies from external ones; at the national level it uses ideological and religious discourse while using pragmatism in foreign policies. This separation is also at the organizational level after the formation of a political party – Freedom and Justice Party – which is separated from the religious institution of Muslim Brotherhood.
The Muslim Brotherhood is concerned primary with the challenges of the economy and development, as it considers that these issue will determine its legitimacy in public opinion which is crucial for the next elections.
It tends to methodologically address social and political challenges step by step and not in a revolutionary way. It believes first in founding the Muslim individual then the Muslim family, then the Muslim society, then Islamic government, and finally mastering the world. This way of thinking is expressed by talking about priorities, “jurisdiction of priorities” in a way that allows the group to ignore issues that it cannot deal with at a certain moment.
Finally, all Islamic actors in the region are testing a “political adaptation” process. They are becoming more realistic and aware of the limits of ideology in politics.
However, even with this pragmatism, the Muslim Brotherhood needs to preserve its religious image, which is necessary in order to legitimatize its leadership role, nationally and regionally. For that, it is aiming to build Egypt’s regional role by claiming leadership of the Sunni Arabs, as was apparent in Mursi’s speech in Tehran, the emotional position about the Syrian Crisis, delaying the normalization of relations with Iran, and claiming that it represents moderate Islam.
What about the Gaza seize?
What about its relations with Saudi Arabia and its sectarian role?
What about Turkey and its strategic partnership with NATO and the US?
What about its position toward Israel?
Will Mursi ask for certain measures in these cases as he did for the Syrian crisis?