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After years of trying to suppress it, Egypt is finally embracing its African identity

THINK AGAIN: Short on money, and friends, Egypt discovers its African roots

If Egypt can reorient itself as an African power, it could be a win-win for the continent.

These are troubled times for Egypt and its president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

The economy is underperforming, forcing the government to approach the International Monetary Fund for a US$12 billion loan. Unemployment is at 12.6% and rising. Terrorism is a major problem, with the most recent attack – claimed by the Islamic State – killing at least 25 people in a Coptic cathedral in central Cairo.

In the region, Egypt’s position has been complicated by a major falling out with its main ally, Saudi Arabia. The two countries have disagreed on how to handle the war on Syria, culminating in Egypt voting in October against Saudi Arabia’s position at the United Nations Security Council. In response, Saudi Arabia immediately halted oil exports to Egypt.

Short on money, and short on friends, Egypt is looking for alternatives.

‘Saudi Arabia’s actions may be pushing Egypt into the hands of the kingdom’s rivals. After the fuel shipments were stopped, Egypt agreed to import oil from Iraq, which now has close ties to Iran. This is in keeping with Mr Sisi’s effort to diversify his country’s alliances after support from America, its most important backer, wavered following his coup. Donald Trump, America’s president-elect, now seems inclined to back Mr Sisi regardless of his dreadful human-rights record. Egypt has also moved closer to Russia, with which it held joint military exercises last month,’ reported The Economist.

What The Economist failed to mention is that Egypt is also looking for new friends in a different direction: south. After years of trying to suppress it, Egypt is finally embracing its African identity...FOR MORE

Simon Allison, ISS Consultant, 09 JAN 2017

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