REGIME SURVIVAL STRATEGIES AND THE CONDUCT OF FOREIGN POLICY IN EGYPT
On January 25 2011, mass protests erupted, fuelled by grievances over Mubarak’s domestic policies and Egypt’s declining role in regional politics. Eighteen days of nationwide, united anti-regime opposition compelled the military to abandon Mubarak. His overthrow ushered in revolutionary upheaval as the popular uprising shattered state institutions when the despised police withdrew from the streets, with their stations in Sinai burned to the ground, and the buildings of Mubarak’s National Democratic Party and the headquarters of the State Security Investigation agency and Interior Ministry were stormed and set ablaze. In retrospect, the upheaval was unable to advance towards political or social revolution. There was no organized opposition force to lead a transition from authoritarian rule. The popular protests also did not cause splits among the old elites or prevent the military backed rule from re-reasserting itself.
Thus, although post-2011 Egypt remains in turmoil, the uprising had little impact on Egypt’s foreign relations under the 18-month interim rule of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), the year-long administration of the first democratically elected civilian president Muhammad Morsi, and now under Abdul Fattah al-Sisi who came to power through a military coup in July 2013. This paper aims to explain why Egypt’s 2011 revolution had little impact on its foreign policy and how domestic actors formulated external strategies expected to ensure regime legitimacy, regime consolidation, political stability, and face domestic challenges. The paper argues that post-Mubarak Egypt increasingly pursued foreign policy for regime security and consolidation and that Egypt’s dependence on regional actors dramatically increased due to its internal turmoil.