Podcast: "The Middle East at the Precipice: Challenges and Imperatives for Egypt and the Region" with Nabil Fahmy

April 16, 2015

An audio recording from Nabil Fahmy, former Foreign Minister of Egypt and Dean, School of Global Affairs and Public Policy (GAPP), Professor of Practice in International Diplomacy, American University Cairo.

On April 15, 2015 at MEI, Minister Nabil Fahmy presented his assessent of the challenges facing the Middle East today and laid out his vision for the region to confront those challenges and seize opportunities, with special focus on Egypt's role in the Arab world and Middle East at large, in a public address moderated by Kennedy School professor Nicholas Burns. Minister Fahmy covered a broad spectrum of issues in the Middle East, remarking on the role of religion in society, the geopolitical and religious aspects of sectarianism, the regional and global roles of Iran, Turkey, and Israel, and Egypt's potential to lead the Arab world through vigorous and inspired diplomacy. He explained his views of the regional role Egypt had to play and the difficulties and promises of reinvigorating Egyptian diplomacy. He also explained his views on state building and the role of religious, ethnic, sectarian, and national identity in the future of the region and gave a firm imperative for building the nation-state system.

The question and answer portion of the event included wide-ranging questions from the audience including on Egypt's policies toward Gaza, human rights violations during the Egyptian transition, and the changing nature of diplomacy in the information age. In repsonse to a question posed by Professor Burns on causes for long-term optimism or pessimism, Minister Fahmy gave a frank assessment of what Egypt must do now to create a chance for positive and progressive transformation in the Middle East.

Listen to the full recording of the April 15, 2015 event, including Professor Nicholas Burns' question to Minister Fahmy, here:

Click here to view photos on the Belfer Center Flickr page.

For a short interview conducted by Harvard's JMEPP, click here.

About Nabil Fahmy:

Nabil Fahmy was foreign minister of Egypt from July 2013 to June 2014. Having assumed leadership of Egypt’s foreign policy during a critical phase of Egypt’s political transition, Minister Fahmy steered the course of Egypt’s diplomacy during a time of immense challenge. During his tenure as minister, Nabil Fahmy formulated a strategy to reorient Egypt’s foreign policy, ensuring that Egypt had numerous foreign policy options both regionally and globally, while also restructuring the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to address the future challenges confronting Egypt’s foreign policy.

During his distinguished diplomatic career, Nabil Fahmy served in numerous positions focusing on regional security, disarmament and non-proliferation, and Arab-Israeli diplomacy. He was a member of the Egyptian delegation to the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference; the Review Conferences of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons; rapporteur of Committee on Principles in the United Nations Conference on Promoting International Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy; United Nations Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters; International Atomic Energy Agency Board and general conferences as well as numerous sessions of the United Nations General Assembly since 1977. He was elected vice chairman of the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security Affairs) of the 44th Session of the General Assembly in 1989. Nabil Fahmy capped his diplomatic career serving as Egypt’s ambassador to Japan from 1997 to 1999 and the United States from 1999 to 2008.

Following his retirement from active government service in 2009, Nabil Fahmy engaged in several initiatives in the field of research and academia. From June 2009 to 2013, he was the founding dean and professor of practice of the School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at The American University in Cairo. He has also served as a non-resident chair of the Middle East Non-Proliferation Project at the James Martin Center for Non-Proliferation Strategies, Monterey, CA, USA since May 1998.

A prolific writer on regional and global affairs, Nabil Fahmy is the author of numerous publications in both Arabic and English. He is married with three children and currently lives in Cairo. 

For more information on this publication: Please contact Middle East Initiative
For Academic Citation:Podcast: "The Middle East at the Precipice: Challenges and Imperatives for Egypt and the Region" with Nabil Fahmy.” Audio, April 16, 2015.