The Muslim Brotherhood's political party promises to transform Egypt's place in the world.
- By Amr DarragAmr Darrag is chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Freedom and Justice Party and secretary-general of Egypt's Constituent Assembly.
Under Hosni Mubarak’s regime, Egypt suffered a significant decline in its traditional role in Arab, regional, and international affairs. Egypt completely lost its cultural, religious, and political leadership positions during this period, and our country was limited to marginal mediator roles or to following other countries’ policies. The Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) platform aims to outline the foreign-policy principles that will restore Egypt to its rightful place in world affairs.
The FJP believes that Egypt must leverage its great geographical, historical, cultural, and political heritage to regain the privileged position it deserves — despite the current meagerness of its material resources and its weak regional and international presence. Egypt can employ its great heritage to this end: Indeed, wise investment of this heritage can achieve a great return, enhancing Egypt’s image, status, and foreign policy for very little cost.
Furthermore, the FJP believes that despite the Egyptian president’s constitutional responsibility for foreign policy, determining Egypt’s international vision should not be the sole responsibility of one individual, as was the case in Egypt for the past few decades. The ethical foundation of the January 25 revolution dictates that there should be an active role for all state institutions, as well as all societal components, in shaping and implementing Egypt’s foreign policy.
Thus, the FJP’s platform is only one of the elements that will shape a comprehensive, shared vision of Egypt’s new role in the world. Egyptian foreign policy should reflect the views of as many of Egypt’s parties and stakeholders as possible — and every Egyptian should be involved in its implementation on the ground.
The FJP believes that Egyptian foreign policy should aspire to transform the world into a more democratic, humane, equitable, and interdependent place. These views are based on the values of our Islamic faith, as well as the foundations of civilization and enlightenment rooted in the principles of the glorious January 25 revolution, which put freedom, human dignity, and social justice at the top of the nation’s priority list.
Restoring an ethical dimension to Egyptian foreign policy should not be looked at as a merely utopian vision. We must realize that by pursuing this end, we will eventually achieve Egypt’s national interests. Our country also has a number of "soft-power" tools that can help it regain its international role — for example, the role of al-Azhar University and the Coptic Church, as well as science, cultural and art institutions, relief organizations, and business associations.
A number of basic principles underpin the FJP’s foreign-policy vision. First among them is our belief that Egyptian foreign relations with all countries should be based on a foundation of equality and mutual interests — not dependency and domination. The goal should be boosting peaceful relations with all countries and peoples in support of international justice, peace, and security.
Egypt should also undergo a gradual transition from its permanent, single-alliance approach to a balanced international relations policy that emphasizes ties with all parties. Egypt should work in all circles and on all levels, moving dynamically in every direction and never neglecting any party to appease any other.
Inspired by the democratic transformation triggered by the January 25 revolution, the popular will should also be the determining factor of Egyptian foreign policy. The Egyptian people are the protectors of the revolution, and our country’s foreign affairs should support their goals for Egypt’s domestic development.
For example, foreign policy has an important role to play in attracting investment to Egypt, as well as boosting international cooperation and technology transfers. It goes without saying that you cannot formulate an active and influential role in the foreign-policy arena without building a coherent and stable domestic base, a strong and effective economy, and a certain minimum of cultural, civilizational, scientific, and technological progress.
Egypt’s new foreign policy should also respect the principles and norms developed by the international community to resolve and settle conflicts among nations — particularly with regard to agreements of nonaggression and the unlawfulness of territorial gains from war. The Geneva Conventions, which protect civilians and prisoners during wars, as well as other safeguards that criminalize aggression, are consistent with the principles of Islamic sharia and should be an integral part of Egyptian foreign policy.
Egypt will continue to respect the conventions and treaties it has signed with all other nations. It will also ensure that these agreements serve the interests of all signatory parties and that their terms are strictly adhered to. In this context, we stress the need to support the Palestinian people to obtain all their legitimate rights.
Observers of Egyptian foreign policy under President Mohamed Morsy will clearly see how the principles mentioned above have been reflected in the government’s actions over the past two months. Morsy did make a great contribution to the formulation of the FJP’s foreign-policy principles when he was chairman of the party. However, we reiterate that this vision must be developed and allowed to mature with the help of much broader community participation and through relevant institutions in the country, especially Egypt’s Foreign Ministry.
It should be noted that some factors undermine the practical implementation of this vision. One of the main threats is the superheated political environment of the Middle East: The rapid transformations in the region, attempts by enemies of the revolution to fragment and tear society apart, the negative economic situation, and the substandard resources available to Egyptian citizens all represent challenges for Egyptian politicians as they attempt to maneuver in the international political arena.
However, we believe that the spirit prevailing in Egypt since the January 25 revolution — which has already led to serious steps on the road to democratization, the termination of military rule, and progress toward an exemplary new constitution — can also inform Egypt’s new foreign policy. All these advancements will help us move forward confidently in recapturing Egypt’s rightful place in the world and will bring the benefits of stability and prosperity to all its citizens, with God’s help.