Global Insights: International Implications of the Egyptian Crisis

Global Insights: International Implications of the Egyptian Crisis

Although even the immediate outcome of the unrest in Egypt remains uncertain, its potential ramifications beyond the country's borders are worth assessing, considering Egypt's importance to regional and world politics.

Considered an international center of Islamic culture and teaching, Egypt is perhaps the most influential Arab country, with the largest Muslim population in the Middle East and one of the strongest militaries in the Arab world. It has contributed to foreign stability operations, most notably in the First Gulf War, and has important intelligence assets in the world's various Islamist movements, including reported informants within al-Qaida. Egypt also enjoys considerable influence in Africa, and is helping moderate the conflict in Sudan.

Perhaps the most-pressing question raised by the possibility of an end to the Mubarak era is whether or not a new Egyptian government would continue to respect the 1979 peace agreement with Israel. Over the course of President Hosni Mubarak's lengthy rule, there has never been a significant Egyptian violation of the peace treaty or its security annex. Time and again, the Mubarak government has made the controversial decision to support the treaty, both by cracking down on Palestinian militants and by looking the other way when Israel has taken controversial actions against other parties, such as invading Lebanon or the Gaza Strip.

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