After a Challenging Decade, Egypt Resumes Its Regional Role

Feb 7, 2019 | 11:00 GMT

The minaret of al-Azhar Mosque in October 2018 in Cairo.

The minaret of al-Azhar Mosque in October 2018 in Cairo.



  • After years of focusing inward to stabilize its economy and internal political situation, Egypt is feeling confident enough to reassert itself as a stronger regional actor.
  • Egypt is focused primarily on preserving its leadership over the Nile, the Red Sea, the Eastern Mediterranean and the eastern Sahara, where it increasingly will butt heads with other regional powers competing for influence.
  • Its importance as a strategic regional power increases Egypt's value to greater powers like the United States, Russia and China as they pursue their competing goals in the Middle East.

Egypt will mark 150 years in 2019 since the completion of the Suez Canal. Vastly shortening the shipping distance between eastern and western corners of the globe by linking the Mediterranean and the Red seas, the canal attests to Egypt's highly strategic location. But controlling a key strategic chokepoint has never been enough for Egypt to ward off declining significance on the global stage. While Egypt's importance in the global system may remain up for debate, few in the Middle East would dispute Egypt's pivotal role in the region. Its willingness to involve itself in Middle East regional affairs, however, waxes and wanes according to how stable it is at home. Today, after years of political chaos since the Arab Spring and the return of the military to power, Egypt's internal politics have stabilized....

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