Baker Institute expert available to comment on Egypt crisis and the US
Ulrichsen: US and EU have been behind the curve from the very beginning
HOUSTON – (Aug. 20, 2013) – With Egypt today standing at a critical juncture as violence escalates between supporters of the ousted Muslim Brotherhood and the security services, a Middle East expert at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy said the United States and European Union have been behind the curve from the very beginning in addressing this crisis.
Kristian Ulrichsen, the Baker Institute’s fellow for Kuwait, said “old guard” powerbrokers in the U.S. and the European Union (EU) are currently caught in the middle, unsure of how to respond even as newer actors seize the initiative to reshape regional politics.
“The U.S. and EU both have been behind the curve from the very beginning,” Ulrichsen said. “After backing the postcolonial authoritarian leaders for decades in the name of stability, they belatedly switched sides with the Arab Spring, and now are in an increasingly incoherent position which wins few friends or admirers within the region. [With the U.S. and EU] having intervened too hastily in Libya and too slowly in Syria and with the shadow of Iraq still looming large, confidence in their capacity to adapt to or even comprehend the rapidly changing regional dynamics is surely at an all-time low in the Middle East.”
Ulrichsen said the resulting inertia contrasts sharply with the speedy offers of $12 billion in material aid and financial assistance from the Gulf states. “These offer the military regime in Cairo viable alternatives without any of the preconditions, policy prohibitions or oversight associated with multilateral, Western-led funding agencies,” he said. “The ebbing of ‘Western’ political and economic influence places great strain on the military and security dimensions of relationships that have for so long underpinned the structure and balance of regional power. Hard choices lie ahead in Washington, D.C., and other capitals about the prioritization of interests in a Middle East once again torn between seemingly competing notions of democracy and stability.”
Ulrichsen’s research examines the changing position of Persian Gulf states in the global order, as well as the emergence of longer-term, nonmilitary challenges to regional security. He also is a visiting fellow at the London School of Economic’s Middle East Centre and an associate fellow at the British think tank Chatham House.
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Ulrichsen biography: http://www.bakerinstitute.org/personnel/fellows-scholars/kcoatesulrichsen.
Founded in 1993, the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University in Houston ranks among the top 20 university-affiliated think tanks globally and top 30 think tanks in the United States. As a premier nonpartisan think tank, the institute conducts research on domestic and foreign policy issues with the goal of bridging the gap between the theory and practice of public policy. The institute’s strong track record of achievement reflects the work of its endowed fellows and Rice University scholars. Learn more about the institute at www.bakerinstitute.org or on the institute’s blog, http://blogs.chron.com/bakerblog.