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Future of US-Egyptian Relations
Future of US-Egyptian Relations between Perpetuation and Tawreeth (hereditary transfer of rule) Studying the US-Egyptian relations point out, since those relations started officially with the opening of a US consulate in 1832 until now- that these relations swung between cooperation and conflict across various chronological periods; the US Egyptian interactions reached their conflictive
Saturday, October 7,2006 00:00
by Amr Tolob, Ikhwanweb

Future of US-Egyptian Relations between Perpetuation and Tawreeth (hereditary transfer of rule)

Studying the US-Egyptian relations point out, since those relations started officially with the opening of a US consulate in 1832 until now- that these relations swung between cooperation and conflict across various chronological periods; the US Egyptian interactions reached their conflictive peak in 1967 when Egypt decided to sever political relations with the United States; as for its cooperative peak, it was during the last years of Sadat’s rule, especially after he agreed- in principle- on giving the United States a military base in Ras Banas and he started to express to the public his desire that Egypt becomes a member in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

The United States returned to Egypt and the Arab world in the 1970s suddenly after the US diplomacy managed during the cold war to contain the Soviet influence and drive it out of the region; if the United States succeeded in keeping booming commercial and economic relations even with the revolutionary Arab countries like Algeria and Syria, its success was better by all measures regarding developing its relations with Egypt; while there were no diplomatic relations between both countries till 1970, these relations resumed in March 1974 and within a few years, Egypt managed to develop special relations with the United States. Since 1978 the United States has become nearly a full partner in Egyptian-Israeli relations and the main source of weapons and the biggest donor of economic aids to Egypt, increasing the sharp domestic and Arab criticisms towards the Egyptian regime due to this to the extent of branding it with collaboration to The United States, although a study on the US-Egyptian relations in the 1980s showed that there was a considerable degree of independence that Mubarak’s regime showed in front of the United States; A study conducted by Christopher Shoemaker and John Spaniar put Egypt in the category of agent -dominant or agent - center as the agent has a considerable sense of independence and ability of maneuvering in managing its foreign policy.

In spite of this, the strategic mistake on the level of the Egyptian-US relations has been- since Sadat declared that 99 % of game cards in US hands- viewing these relations not as bilateral between both countries but as from a tripartite perspective ( The United States- " Israel "-Egypt) with every meaning of the word because "Israel" appeared as a third party which may have been a key indicator of the level the relations between both countries. This undesirable situation gave weight to "Israel" at the expense of Egypt that quickly realized that it is the weakest party in that tripartite relation which is very dangerous on its attitudes; that led also to downgrading the ceiling of the Egyptian regional role that ranged during the last decades between booming and isolation, though it can be said that this role has reached its sunset a while ago.

According to many strategic analysts, the US administration’s interest in the role of Egypt is attributed to its regional role; during the 1970s, the Egyptian administration played the role of the second ally to the United States in the region after "Israel"; in the 1980s, Mubarak’s regime developed its relations with " Israel " so that the regime played the role of an entrance through which it got involved in the region; in the 1990s, Egypt was considered the cornerstone of the so called then the process of full settlement on bilateral, regional or international levels.

During the current stage, as the US - Egyptian relations are relations are at a critical juncture that may define the future of those relations between both countries in the next period as Egypt is on the thresholds of a future Egypt and as these relations are perhaps the key indicator of the current question in Egypt: how will these relations be both in perpetuation or in a hereditary transfer of rule?; through the nature of this stage and the landmarks of development in it, the form of relations aspired by both  sides or – to be more specific- the outcome for pressure of the stronger side and the resistance of the weaker side and the tensions of the internal and external circumstances of both sides and the changes in the regional arena, as the political relations between any two countries are determined in terms of its extent, depth or effectiveness according to many factors related to the two sides’ nature, the surrounding regional and international situations and interests and the historic situation in which these relations interact; this is because the foreign policy of a country is a result of the features, characteristics and aspirations of the people of this country according to the realization of the ruling political power to what these features and aspirations; in spite of this, peoples’ aspirations rarely meet the aspirations of the ruling authorities and their elites, mostly seek their personal interests.

In this critical stage of Egyptian history, both systems of "perpetuation" and " hereditary transfer of rule" try to reach a real point of balance in the Egyptian foreign policy apart from being controlled by one external force; specially that the US- Egyptian relations naturally include a mixture of cooperative and conflictive interactions at the same time. Thus, it can be said that if the conflictive relations between Egypt and The United States reached a certain point or level, this may make the United States to direct its resources and huge capabilities against Egypt and lobby international forces that the Egyptian country can’t face, thereby endangering its security- the regime’s or the society’s; at the same time, the opposite assumption is right as well: if the cooperative relations between Egypt and the United States reached a certain limit or level, the cost of this abnormal cooperation may be " reducing Egypt capabilities and role as a regional power; consequently this cooperation becomes eventually a burden on Egypt’s independence and it may endanger its national security; hence, the relation between both countries may turn from agent - dominant to agent – submissive.

The observers have noticed a number of indications pointing that the US- Egyptian relations have been recently clouded. Also, US sharp criticisms to Egypt increased, regarding human rights, the political reform course and the obstacles blocking it; on the other hand, the sharp lobbying of the political discourse in Egypt faces two options the better is bitter: between a domestic tyranny and foreign intervention, while the Egyptian regime blames those who seek foreign intervention, those attack the regime for this tyranny that may bring in occupation.

Searching for a stable type for US Egyptian relations shows us that there is a critical juncture in these relations, the point in which Egypt’s national interest meets- for argument sake- US interests, the factors of this point are: spreading US life style, fighting the so called terrorism, and protecting "Israel", in addition to protecting its oil interests and waterways (Suze Canal), to meet the interests of a huge single empire in our contemporary world; it is clear that this agenda of interests reduce the Egyptian status whether on domestic or regional levels.
Reaching this critical stage, while external and internal conditions are available, allows the relations to continue in its current course; what dissatisfies both sides, but in its slightest limit, is that continuing this situation means the success of the scenario of a hereditary transfer of rule, and that it is possible that it will be carried out as planned; if these conditions were stayed behind or faced factors which are stronger than their availability, I think that this scenario won’t succeed, taking into consideration the repercussions of the domestic arena and its accepting loss in this round of the conflict battles between the Egyptian political regime and its people.

The relations between both countries have ranged in last period between ebbs and tides, turning into continuous maneuvers, and mutual attempts of reaching agreements between both sides to achieve a one side’s interests at the expense of the other, but victory always sides with the one who has the most effective cards in the conflict equations; I think that that feverish desire in reaching a hereditary transfer of rule is the weakest chain of the Egyptian side in its relations with The United States; hence,  continuing the current relations between Egypt and The United States means that Egypt should rearrange its national priorities to address the US arrangement of priorities in the Middle East.

We should, within this context, understand the successive rounds of the system of hereditary transfer of rule under the name of campaigns of knocking doors which are only aiming to approve future projects under any name, while many files mainly related to the US agenda in the region are arranged and pressures are exercised on the Egyptian stance on two parallel levels: the first level is: the role of the Egyptian regime in foreign files like Iraq, developments of the Palestinian cause, terrorism file, Iranian nuke, and its attitude towards the US exercises regarding them; as for the second level: it is the domestic affairs, starting from discussing the status of democracy and human rights in Egypt, followed by the economic file and evaluating the Egyptian moves towards free market economies, including also discussing the expected conditional steps like the free trade agreement, and the US aid which is considered the most important files under discussion especially after it relapsed in the last period due to continuous attempts of hinting at cutting or reducing it.

There are real fears that face the Egyptian system of hereditary transfer of rule and they may force it into giving more concessions. The most accurate description of the future of the US Egyptian relations was cited by the Washington Post editorial in its issue 17 January 2006: Washington sees that time is ripe to search for a regime which is more capable to lead Egypt to a real democracy, and that it rejected Egyptian government demand of increasing the US aid this year some more millions of dollars ( as reward to it for the role it played in making he "Israeli" unilateral Gaza withdrawal plan succeed), and that it decided to freeze negotiations on establishing free trade zone between both countries, to the extent of confirming that the Congress will reconsider the $1.8bln military aid given to Egypt since (Camp David) treaties, unless president Hosni Mubarak did not take a number of steps during this year, like rescinding the state of emergency and giving licenses to moderate movements that want to establish their parties and enabling them to exercise their activities freely, and rescinding censorship on newspapers and restrictions on freedom of independent civil society movements, and releasing Ayman Nour and allowing him to publish and apply his reformist programs and thoughts .

Concerning the Iraqi issue, it is well-known that the United States wants Egypt and other Arab and Islamic countries to contribute to form forces that- it believes- can ease the pressure on American troops and contribute to achieving stability and security and to pave the way for the success of " the political process ", as it sees it and according to its plans in Iraq.

Concerning the Iranian nuclear program, it is clear that The United States wants Egypt to take a frank public attitude of condemning Iran’s attempts to possess nuclear weapons.

As for Syria, Lebanon and Palestine, the U.S. administration wants Egypt to continue its pressures on the Syrian regime and to support the Lebanese government attitude pressing for disarming Hezbollah and the Palestinian organizations in Lebanon according to resolution 1559, and to exercise pressures on Hamas, Jihad and other armed resistance factions to maintain a unilateral truce and not to provoke "Israel".

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