Egyptian President Dr. Mohammed Mursi presented himself as an Arab leader in a profound and definitive manner during his opening speech at the conference of Arab foreign ministers, which was held in Cairo on Wednesday afternoon. With an effective performance, and carefully –written, intelligent words, he was able to address the whole Arab world as states first and foremost, then as regimes, in a positive manner that garnered “reassurance and support” for Egypt’s current and future regional role.
Perhaps the most important issue that the President touched upon was the Syrian situation, which he mentioned in the introduction, middle and end of his speech. Perhaps what was most notable was when the Egyptian President improvised away from the text of his speech, and warned: “Don’t take the right step at the wrong time… because that would be the wrong step”, in reference to the delays in Arab moves to stop the massacres in Syria. Mursi concluded his speech by saying “Syria is the basis, take any decision and we are with you”. Dr. Mursi also did not fail to reference Yemen, Sudan, Palestine, the Gulf States, Somalia, and Iraq, emphasizing “positive Egyptian rapprochement” towards these countries.
What are the key observations that can be inferred from President Mursi’s speech?
Firstly, Egypt is beginning to emerge from a state of regressing within its own problems and concerns inside its borders, and has begun to play its regional role actively and effectively.
Secondly, the President used a team well researched in Arab affairs to provide him with a good speech which in reality outlined the constitution and principles of Egyptian foreign policy in the Arab world.
Thirdly, the President’s improvised segments means that the man is familiar with all the details of the important Arab issues that he addressed, and that the President is not just someone reading a speech prepared for him, or someone conveying the ideas of his aides.
Fourthly, Cairo, in terms of its Arab policies, has actually moved on from a state of reacting to events – a theme that has dominated Egypt’s Arab policies for many years – to a state of “positive action”, or in other words it has moved from the passenger seat to the driver’s seat.
Here we must pause and emphasize that any foreign policy starts fundamentally from a coherent domestic situation within the country, as John Foster Dulles said: “The United States of America does not have friends; it has interests”.
This challenge makes all the Egyptian President’s pledges subject to internal political stability in Egypt, the extent of its economic cohesion and the positive rotation of the wheel of development.
So that Egypt can actually emerge from its state of internal regression with regards to its Arab environment, it needs strong economic support from its Arab brothers