What You Need to Know About Playing Egypt

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- Keep in mind that Egypt is central to the Arab-Israeli conflict. No major war (with the exception of those with Lebanon) was fought against Israel without Egypt’s involvement. Egypt’s size, location, and large population make it central to all events taking place in the Arab world and, therefore, you will always be looked upon to take a leadership role.

- When playing Egypt, remember that your poor economy has forced you to depend heavily on aid from the United States. The US has provided Egypt over $50 billion in assistance since 1975 to get support for its policies in the region, to assure access to the Suez Canal, and to maintain stability in Egypt and the continuation of its friendship to Israel. This dependence has limited your ability to make decisions that would contradict US. policies and the American vision for the Middle East.

- You also need to know that Egypt foreign policy began to shift after the 1973 War when its leadership came to the realization that a settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict was a precondition for Egyptian development. Hence, Egypt will be more likely to attempt to foster peace with Israel than it will be to go to war.

- Don’t forget that Egypt was the first Arab country to normalize relations with Israel (March 26, 1979) and was subsequently ostracized by the Arab League for its separate peace. Egypt, unlike most of the Arab countries, has established diplomatic and commercial relations with Israel.

- Remember that Egypt’s ruling party and its leadership have constantly been under pressure and attack by the different political groups to reform and change. Violence has erupted from time to time with the “dissidents” such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Kifaya (Egyptian National Movement for Change) and others who have accused the leadership of corruption and of not taking a strong stance against Israel. Others have even gone as far as refuting the peace treaty signed with Israel. Therefore, make sure to take into consideration the sentiments of your people before making any overtly pro-Israeli decisions.

- More and more, your position as a potential mediator between Israel and Hamas takes on major significance. Incitement from Gaza (whether from Hamas or more extremist elements) represents a threat to Egypt, just as it does to Israel, so you have a clear interest in maintaining regional calm, and potentially in a negotiated settlement between Israel and Palestine. Such a settlement (especially one that you help to mediate) would have economic and security benefits for you, but it could also help restore regional influence and prestige lost in recent years.

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