United States Ämbivalent Foreign Politcy towards it Arab Authoritian Allies

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During the Arab Spring, US’ traditional support for its Arab authoritarian allies could no longer be taken for granted. While relationships with some allies were terminated, others were maintained. To explain this ambivalence, this thesis conducts a case-study into US’ foreign policy towards three successive Egyptian authoritarian regimes between 2011 and 2015. During this period, also known as the Egyptian crisis, US’ relations with Egypt shifted back and forth between support and opposition of the country’s leadership. On the basis of neoclassical realism, three causal mechanisms for foreign policy change are hypothesized. Using process-tracing, the empirical chapter traces the development of US’ foreign policy in each of the three Egyptian within-cases, to test the empirical manifestation of the hypothesized causal pathways. Focusing at the decisive ‘turning points’ where policy shifted towards a certain outcome, the analysis assesses which of the hypothesized causal factors - strategic interests, values, and domestic pressures - were decisive. The analysis indicates that – in all three within-cases – foreign policy formulation process was characterized by an internal struggle among decision-makers holding different perceptions of the national interests. However, at decisive 'turning points', decision-makers' perceptions of the national interest that were based on national security interests were decisive. Depending on whether US’ national security interests were expected to be served by supporting an Egyptian regime or opposing it, US decision-makers would decide which policies to pursue. As for the other hypothesized causal factors, i.e. norms and domestic pressures, they were able to affect the outcome of US' foreign policy only in some occasions and under specific conditions.
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