This paper attempts to provide a conceptualization of Egypt’s current predicaments by process-tracing historical critical junctures and sequences of causal mechanisms that contributed to bringing about the January 2011 events. Focusing on the period between the July 1952 Revolution led by Gamal Abdel Nasser and the events of 2011, it traces the developments and changing political and strategic trajectories of the three presidents Nasser, Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak. The case of Egypt is examined here as ‘an instance of a class of events’ focusing on phenomena related to the tracing of causal factors or critical junctures, and mechanisms leading to a particular outcome on 25 January 2011. It further links the uprising to that country’s 1979 ‘Peace Treaty’ with Israel. This treaty ‘de-securitized’ the latter, allowing it significant regional freedom of action. This had a causal effect on challenging Egypt’s identity-motivated action, contributing, in the process, to undermining its identity structure. An increasing awareness among many Egyptians of the link between the treaty and their identity formation is one of the main reasons for summoning the legacy of Nasser’s leadership as a source of ‘ontological security’.
Geopolitics is about power and hegemony, with its dual components of domination and consent. Controlling space requires dominion. Organizing and administering space at reasonable costs demands authority and acquiescence. This conceptualization of geopolitics pertains to the underlying causes behind current instabilities in the Middle East as they link with broader geopolitical and strategic interests of great powers, particularly the US. Geopolitical theory helps offer deeper insights into how American decision makers are likely to think and act in the post-Cold War era, and in explaining, understanding, and possibly reading and forming expectations about US policies. It allows for more clarity in observing continuities in US strategy and in shaping expectations about tactics and policies in the service of its durable strategic international and global interests. The main argument of this paper is that the American ruling establishment, together with its supporting intellectual and military structures, persists in observing the emerging global venture geopolitically. In those terms much of what is occurring in the Arab region, more specifically in countries such as Syria among others, can be understood. It is also in those terms that one can conceptualize the American approach toward regional and world powers such as Iran, China and Russia.