Former FM recommends Sisi seek ‘diplomatic parity’
Former Egypt's Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy - AP/Hassan Ammar
By HANAN FAYED

CAIRO: A policy of “diplomatic parity” was recommended by former Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy in his memo to President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi when he assumed power, he told Al-Arabiya Al-Hadath Sunday.

Diplomatic parity does not entail a clash with major powers, but rather multiple alternatives and options on international levels on the basis of balance, respect and common interests, Fahmy said.

“The new reality forces us to establish balanced relations with all world powers, not just the U.S.,” Fahmy added.

National identity at stake

The former minister also said that many risks and huge challenges are facing Egypt at the regional level in the Middle East; the most important of which is that of the “national identity” of Egypt and its surrounding countries.

The Islamic State (IS) has taken control over vast areas of Syria and Iraq, forcing thousands to flee their homes. Sinai-based Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis recently posted a video of the beheading of four Bedouins, placing their heads over the backs of the corpses, and claimed the victims provided Israel with intelligence.

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, Egypt’s most active terrorist group, was founded in 2011 in the aftermath of the January 25 Revolution and has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks and killings. However, it only started posting videos of executions last month after IS started receiving attention for doing the same.

Fahmy said national boundaries are threatened by growing polarization and sectarianism in the region and the governments’ failures to meet the aspirations of Arab societies. He said they must do so, as the stability of the Middle East is at stake.

Egyptian security sources say IS has infiltrated Libya, threatening the eastern side of the North African country. Egyptians were targeted and killed on several occasions in Libya, leading them to flee through Tunisia and Algeria.

IS allegedly claimed responsibility for attacks in Matrouh and Farafra Oasis near the Libyan border, killing dozens of military and police personnel in July and August.

“One of the best ways to cope with [terrorism] is early planning to deal with risks, and putting forward an Egyptian vision to build a better future for Egypt, the Arab world and Africa, to interact with the international bloc and become an actor in shaping the regional and international agenda,” Fahmy said, “before we are faced with the ambitions of others.”

Egypt’s diversification of relations

Russia shares Egypt’s vision on the dangers of radical Islamists in the region, while the U.S. will continue to demand integrating the Islamic current in politics until “heated events subside,” Fahmy said.

Egyptian relations with the U.S., along with Qatar and Turkey, have deteriorated since the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi.

The U.S. became convinced over the past three decades that the Islamist current is an active player in the region, and its insistence on its political integration comes despite Egypt’s rejection, he added.

Fahmy and Sisi’s visits to Russia and China in February, while Sisi was interim minister of defense, were to diversify relations, and not to establish an “alliance,” according to Fahmy. In the visit, he said the two officials proposed “strategic cooperation.”

Sisi’s presidential visit to Russia at the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin on Aug. 12 was met with offers of fighter jets and helicopters.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry Friday that the U.S. will deliver 10 Apache helicopters soon to counter terrorism in Sinai.

Fahmy continued that the United Nations General Assembly on Sep. 23 is an opportunity that should be used to address the international community regarding the regional agenda, and that “Egypt has followed the will of its people and will not apply any foreign dictates.”

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