The visit sets the tone for the next couple of decades. This is the first significant bilateral visit after the Arab Spring which swept through Egypt. India has long historical and cultural relationship with Egypt dating back to Non Aligned Movement, freedom movement and in Suez crisis we supported Egypt. The Arab spring brought about a small hiatus. The visit is kind of a course correction bringing back the bilateral relations and a more forward movement.
India – Egypt Relations
We have relations encompassing every sector that is political, security, economic, cultural, science, investment and defense. Defense has acquired a little higher emphasis in the recent visit.
This is a forward movement. It lays a foundation for new relations between the two countries.
India and Egypt decided to significantly step up their defense and security cooperation to effectively deal with twin challenges of terrorism and radicalization.
Egypt participated in the World Sufi Forum in India. Harmony, tolerance and coexistence were the theme.
Prime minister mentioned Egypt as a bridge between Asia and Africa. Defense trade is an important issue of the visit with expanding defense trade, training and capacity building.
In the Afro – Asian solidarity which evolved into Non Aligned Movement, Egypt played a role along with India. India and Egypt are the founding fathers of Non Aligned Movement.
There exists Literary, linguistic and scientific contacts between the two countries. Indian films are popular in Egypt. This shows the cultural empathy between the two countries.
Egypt can also invest in Make in India, defense and industries. They have a very good technical man power which is best recognized in the Arab world.
There is a Pakistan angle to our relations with the gulf countries. They did influence for some time, but this is not the case now. India has invested in gulf countries in terms of man power.
Terrorism and Radicalization
With both India and Egypt engaged in fighting terrorism, the two leaders identified the menace as one of the “gravest threats” and decided to have greater information and operational exchanges to combat it, besides ramping up defense cooperation.
We are of one view that growing radicalization, violence and spread of terror are a real threat across regions.
India has been a victim of terrorism; Egypt has seen a lot of unrest. The radicalization is taking the form of global terrorism.
Egypt is very well placed to play its role in halting radicalization and rolling back all the factors which are contributing to it. It is the centre of Al-Azhar University for Islamic education. It has suffered as a victim of radicalization. Muslim brotherhood had created havoc in the country.
One of the issues that India and Egypt face is terrorism. An overarching framework and support from G20 will greatly enhance the joint efforts of both the countries in fighting terrorism.
Importance of Egypt
Egypt is the member of the organization for Islamic cooperation (OIC). It is a powerful global organization. OIC had a pro Pakistan slant in its deliberations and declarations since inception. Pakistan insisted India should not be a member despite having second largest Muslim population. Over the years the Pakistan stand has got diluted.
OIC can play a role in this institutional framework in resisting radicalization. India has got good bilateral relations with the members of OIC. What India discusses with these countries is same as what OIC discusses.
Egypt has a triple identity in terms of African identity, Arab – Asian Identity and Mediterranean identity. These identities will make them unique. This casts upon it certain responsibilities and roles in the region and beyond it. It is a large country with historical and civilization strength.
Egypt has a long history in the defense sector. In the emerging west Asian scenario, exchange in the production, training and information is very important. The Libya, Syria, Iraq and Yemen issues are conflict based. So Egypt has a special significance.
The culture is the least controversial aspect of all global relations. It promotes people to people contact, understanding and appreciating each other’s culture and lays a ground basis for other aspects.
The prime minister of Egypt represents asecular A secular government anywhere is welcomed in the current scenario where radicalization is taking place and terrorism is striking roots.
Economics is the binding glue in the contemporary world. Egypt can be a gateway to Africa, Mediterranean and to the Arab world. It is a member of theArab Free Trade Area. If India find a way to Egypt and meet the value addition criteria then we will have a duty free access.