Egypt starting to tilt away from U.S. towards Iran and China

More problematic for the U.S., is Egypt’s outreach to China. Concerned about the effect of Egypt’s new policy of intentionally downgrading — and potentially even severing — ties with its peace partner Israel, Morsi appears to be engaged in hedging. Much like post-revolution Iran, China could be a willing partner for an Islamist Egypt.

China has not fared particularly well in the so-called Arab Spring. In addition to losing billions of dollars in energy sector investments in Libya, Beijing’s ongoing support for the Bashar Assad regime’s ruthless repression of the popular uprising has engendered the animosity of millions of Syrians. Beijing’s vetoes of United Nations Security Council resolutions against Syria has made burning Chinese flags a popular pastime among the anti-Assad opposition, and when the regime is finally dispatched, the Middle Kingdom’s economic and political interests in Syria will suffer.

Although an Islamist Egypt beset by insecurity and a failing economy might seem of little value to the Chinese, upgraded ties with the troubled nation would provide China with a foothold on the Mediterranean, and include, hypothetically, a port.