GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Title of Paper:
Tactical Alliance?: Rethinking the Relationship between Egypt ,UAE, and Saudi Arabia
Paper Proposal Text :
Tactical Alliance?: Rethinking the Relationship between Egypt ,UAE, and Saudi Arabia

Dr Eman Ragab
Senior Researcher,Security and Strategic Studies Unit,
al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies

The developments in Egypt following June 30, 2013 revolution, as well as the strategic transformations in the region redefines its relationships with UAE and Saudi Arabia. Pundits usually consider this new type of relationship as a "new axis" taking place in the region, a "strategic partnership", or a "strategic alliance". However, these terms overlooks the fact that the rapprochement among these three countries is issue-based and haven't alleviated the tensions among them, or unified their perceptions of threats to their security or changed their regional ambitions.
This paper argues that the relationship among these countries since the 2013 revolution till the death of King Abdulalh, was taking the shape of a "tactical" alliance that served their national interests through a pragmatic coordination of their policies to counter the shared threats to their national security, thus it is issue specific, without having any institutional arrangements or any long term commitments, and it is resilience is subject to the shifts in the perceptions of the ruling elites in these countries and to the developments in the region.
Historically, this type of alliances was in effect between Egypt and Saudi Arabia with varying formations. It was preferred by the founders of Saudi Arabia and accepted by the Egyptian presidents as it is less formal and more convenient to contain their regional rivalries. Having UAE as another party in that alliance, reflects the shifting regional developments following the Arab Spring that empowered small GCC countries to play more active role in the region.
This paper argues also that the continuation of the tactical alliance between Egypt, UAE and Saudi Arabia under King Salman , will be defined by three factors, first is the continuation of the shared perceptions of threats among the three countries which is subject to the perceptions of the ruling elites in these countries. Second, the increasing need of GCC support to the transition in Egypt which would make the latter more committed to maintain the tactical alliance, and third is the increasing costs of either institutionalizing the alliance among them, or acting outside its tacit framework.
Thus, this paper is divided into three sections, an introduction and a conclusion. The first section examines the perceptions in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and UAE regarding the pattern of the relationship among them following June 2013 in comparison to that prevailed during Mubarak and Morsi eras. The second section examines the tactical alliance in action through analyzing the policies followed by these countries regarding the fight against terrorism, the political ambition of the Muslim Brother hood, the conflict in Libya, Yemen and Syria. The third section analyzes the "limits" of this type of alliance among these countries, in the light of the changes in leadership in Saudi Arabia, the increasing tension between Egypt and Qatar, and the continuation of differences/rivalries among them when it comes to their regional ambitions.