Mursi should limit his foreign travel

Although it is important that President Mohamed Mursi travels outside Egypt, staying in the country is more important. I do not want to undermine the value of his participation in different events along other presidents or his visits to capitals that Egypt must communicate with. I am also willing to speak out more than anyone else and call on the importance of his attendance of Arab League and African summits considering their importance to Egypt. I am also ready to accept the idea that the president does not go to these countries for the aim of tourism or for the sake of enjoying traveling across capitals. Even his companions have started to talk about the number of hours -- not day-- that each journey takes. I was told that his trip to South Africa took 18 hours and that he only stayed there for 16 hours. When he visited Turkey, he stayed there for 10 hours. His stay in Germany was no more than 10 hours and his visit to Tehran lasted no more than four hours. He spent 10 hours in Pakistan. His longest trip was to China as he spent there 48 hours. His second long trip was to India where he spent 36 hours.

I understand all this. I also do not deny that his trips have many benefits. I understood that the most important benefit achieved during Arab Summit meetings in Doha was the renewal of his confidence in Qatar's support for the Egyptian Cabinet and his conviction of the negativity of other countries' stance on that matter including countries that had promised to stand by Egypt in its economic crisis. Not to mention the countries that made no promises and said when the subject was raised “hopefully it will go well.”

During his participation in the BRICS summit in South Africa (which in addition to the latter includes Russia, China, India and Brazil), the most important thing that happened was holding an extended meeting (that lasted for two hours) with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Another important aspect was his meeting with presidents of African countries who attended the summit. This was considered part of an attempt to renew and reactivate Egyptian-African relations after they overcome the phase of recession in recent months.

I went into details of the positive effects of the president's communication with foreign countries in order to show my conviction of its importance and so no one thinks I call for turning our back on other countries during the age of globalization where geographic boundaries fell. Despite this, I still think that as a rule, domestic policy is the most important. The country's current disturbed situation doubles this importance. An entire attention towards the domestic situation does not mean disconnecting Egypt from what is happening beyond its borders, but it means that the president's journeys to other countries must be limited. He should not travel unless it is certain that the aspired interest can only be achieved through his presence and that having the premier or ministers or envoys represent Egypt will not serve that aspired interest. I hope I do not have to bring attention that there is a difference between being present and attending. Being present is a physical condition distinguished by stillness. Attendance is a positive act distinguished by activity. There is also a presence that maybe equal to absence and only activity turns presence into a tangible attendance. When I call for President Mursi to stay in Egypt, I am talking about his presence represented in looking after achieving national consensus, stability and security and improving economy. I surely do not mean that he should just sit silently in his office observing what is going on. 

An entire attention towards the domestic situation does not mean disconnecting Egypt from what is happening beyond its borders, but it means that the president's journeys to other countries must be limited.

Fahmy Howeidy

Domestic policy as a base

The president's vision should be based on his people and not on only on his character regardless of the latter's virtues. Those who receive him in any foreign event or capital respect him as much as his people are satisfied with him. It is not true that foreign policy is separated from domestic policy. The latter is the basis. It is a mirror that reflects the president. Foreign policy is a translation of domestic policy. Therefore, when security is threatened in Egypt and when economy is in crisis and as political chaos threatens to take over the country, those who receive him anywhere are just being courteous towards him. They don't really appreciate him and perhaps they pity him more than they listen to him and perhaps they do not really take him seriously. When a president travels and leaves his country in distress, he is seen ill and hurt. The foreigners who sit before him do not see his features but his people's features and they only hear his voice.

The mystical commends a man who is present even when he is not there (that is people miss him dearly and continue to look for him.) This is a phase we have not reached yet. But we want to avoid this situation of the man who is absent while he is present. The aim we currently aspire is that the president be present and not absent. Since President Mursi is preparing to travel to Sudan at the end of the week, I remind him that if traveling his seven benefits as they say, then staying in Egypt with the aspired presence at the current time has at least seventy benefits.

This article was first published in Al-Shorouk News on March 31.



Dr. Fahmy Howeidy has worked in journalism since 1958 for Egypt's Al-Ahram Foundation. He is currently the Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the Al-Ahram newspaper. Previously, Howeidy served as the Managing Editor of Kuwait's Al-Arabi magazine and of Arabia magazine, which is published in London, UK in English. He is now fully dedicated to contributing to Al-Ahram and has a column each Tuesday published in six Arab countries in Asharq Al-Awsat, Al-Majalla, and Al-Wafd Newspaper. Howeidy has had seventeen books published, including: The Quran and the Sultan, Awareness Forgery, In Order Not to be A Sedition, Islam in China, Iran from the Inside, Taliban, Establishing Due Rights, and The Crisis of Religious Awareness. Howeidy is a specialist in Arab and Islamic affairs.


Last Update: Sunday, 31 March 2013 KSA 11:11 - GMT 08:11
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