chapter  6
Egypt’s foreign policy from Mubarak to Mursi: Between systemic constraints and domestic politics
Pages 19

Many expected post-uprising Egypt to resume its position, forfeited in the later years of Hosni Mubarak’s presidency, as the pivotal state in the Arab world. It was seen as the swing power, where a major change in foreign policy would be decisive for the regional power balance. Indeed, post-Mubarak Egypt gave early indications that it would no longer automatically align with the pro-Western ‘moderate’ axis in the regional power struggle. Chas Freeman (2011) argued that neither the United States nor Israel could any longer count on Egyptian cooperation with policies that were anathema to the Arab street. Without the burden of close association with Amer ican foreign policy, Cairo could again benefit from its geopolitical weight in inter-Arab politics: its preponderant size and centrality, its role as regional hub, and the traditional appointment of an Egyptian diplomat as Secretary-General of the Arab League. Yet Egypt’s options were also understood to be sharply constrained by dependencies created under the previous regimes of presidents Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak. Its deep economic dependency on US aid and Gulf capital sharply limited its potential to play an assertive or even independent role.