The Egyptian government is promoting
a new blog showcasing the work
of the Egyptian Foreign Policy Forum, a state-sponsored think tank. But the target
audience isn't just Egyptians -- the first few
posts indicate that officials are looking for an audience abroad as much as at
That's because almost all of the articles are translated into
English. They include big-picture think pieces with titles like "Egyptian
Foreign Policy, a New Vision," and more specific policy outlines like "Egypt
and Russia, Horizons of Cooperation." What's more: They're translated verbatim.
Maybe that shouldn't be a surprise. But over the past year,
Egyptian officials have made a habit of saying one thing in
English and something very different to their constituents in Arabic. There
was the Twitter sparring
last September, when the Muslim Brotherhood's English-language feed tweeted
after the protests on Sept. 11, "We r relieved none of @USEmbassyCairo
staff were hamed & hope US-Eg
relations will sustain turbulence of Tuesday's events," while praising the
protests, which breached the embassy compound, in Arabic. "Thanks. By the way,
have you checked out your own Arabic feeds? I hope you know we read those too,"
the U.S. Embassy account shot back (the tweet was later deleted). More
recently, there was the Brotherhood's consolatory message to the U.S.
government in the wake of the Boston marathon bombing, and, in stark contrast,
a bizarre, conspiracy-laden rant posted to Facebook in Arabic.
The blog's sole Arabic-only posts so far are on Egyptian-Sudanese
relations, and they don't delve into anything scandalous -- both are pretty
bland discussions of border economic zones and, in the case of Sudan,
There are a couple interesting tidbits tucked away in the
English articles. Specifically, "A New Vision" states Egypt's intention to
achieve a position of "regional leadership and special international status,"
including "a permanent seat in the UN Security Council." (Egypt's been swinging
for the fences lately -- in March, it proposed joining the BRICS as well.) In "Egypt and Russia," the
Egyptian administration expresses its interest in "achieving balance, independence,
and political influence in foreign relations," breaking free of "the shackles of
subordination and occupation." "This can be realized through the development of
relations with different countries across the globe including Russia," the
policy paper states.
All in all, it's not that provocative (though maybe a bit
grandiose). But is it sincere? There's no reason to think these bland policy
pronouncements aren't expressed in good faith -- but they're just a few more data points amid Egypt's many mixed messages.
ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP/Getty Images