Publication of a report on the withdrawal of Egypt from a US-led anti-Iran coalition just one day after a cordial meeting between President al-Sisi and his American counterpart Donald Trump shows Cairo’s caution in preventing tensions with Iran. Cairo has come to the understanding that Tehran is not a threat against Cairo. Given that Egypt is the greatest military power among the Arabs, one can consider Trump’s dream of forging an anti-Iranian coalition a failed attempt.
Initially, Cairo had aligned with the Saudis in joining the Hebrew-Arab NATO and the Egyptian economy somehow depended on Saudi Arabia and the UAE petrodollars. In fact, given the severe economic crisis in Egypt and the spread of structural violence in the country despite General Sisi’s efforts to overcome the crisis, the Egyptians did not see the possibility of adopting an independent policy in the Middle East.
However, over time and with the emergence of serious disagreements on some regional issues, especially about Syria and Yemen, and General Sisi’s efforts to reduce dependence on Saudi Arabia, we are witnessing the adoption of new policies by Egypt in the region. Cairo, since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, also wanted stability and non-intervention of the military to overthrow the ruling regime in Syrian. In the Yemeni crisis too, Riyadh’s pressure on Cairo to make a greater military contribution in attacking Yemen and defeating Houthi forces has failed.
Thus, in line with pursuing Iranophobia wave by Saudi Arabia, Riyadh strived to check Iran’s influence by involving powerful Arab countries and linking the issue to the interests of Israel, but now Egypt has adopted a policy of non-intervention or, at least, a lack of serious involvement in crisis-prone zones in the Middle East.
Thus, with stabilization of the situation in Syria, the sustainability of power in Iraq and the expansion of Iran’s influence in the Middle East, the Egyptians have also acknowledged the effective role Iran plays to influence crisis management in the region. With these explanations, Cairo is likely to keep further away from Riyadh in the Middle East and adopt more independent policies.
On the other hand, considering the capabilities of Russia, Turkey and Iran as the three influential countries in Syria and the region, the Egyptians, by moving away from the Western and Arab axis in the anti-Iranian coalition, are trying to improve their economic and political relations with these three key players in the region. From this perspective, it can be said that from in view of the Egyptian military, the failure to join the Hebrew-Arab NATO could have a negative impact on economic and reconstruction aids Cairo receives in the short term. But in the near future, with the stabilization of the region, the Egyptians can take a larger share of the economic pie.
There are a few points about the idea of creating the Hebrew-Arab NATO: After the outbreak of many crises in the Middle East in line with Donald Trump’s anti-Iranian policies in the region, creation of Saudi-Israeli alliances against Iran was placed on the agenda of the White House security team.
In this regard, the Americans have been working to establish a direct link between the authorities in Riyadh, Tel Aviv and neighbouring allies in the Middle East in order to block the strategy of Iran’s influence in the Middle East. Therefore, we were witness to secret meetings between the leaders of Israel and Saudi Arabia and certain other Persian Gulf states. It could also be said that the issue of the ‘deal of the century” aimed at ensuring the security of Israel and further expansion of political and economic interactions between conservative and authoritarian Arab regimes and the Zionist regime were among these measures.
Finally, one of the strategies followed after the failure of the Syria disintegration plan and the compulsory withdrawal of Americans from the crisis-prone areas in the Middle East with the aim to isolate Iran was the formation of a Hebrew-Arab NATO. Hence, Saudi Arabia has tried, in addition to its Persian Gulf allies, attract Egypt as one of the Middle East powers in a coalition called the Hebrew-Arab NATO against Iran, but with Cairo’s withdrawal from the coalition Saudi Arabia and its allies have faced an impasse in creating a full-fledged anti-Iran coalition.