• Reports
  • August 13, 2008
  • 8 minutes read

Cairo and Washington… No New Crisis Looming Ahead

Cairo and Washington… No New Crisis Looming Ahead

It was not the first ti?e and it will not be the last. ?gyptian officials have apparent?y become practiced in dealing w?th statements by successive US ambassadors. These ?tatements contain criticisms of?the government performance, of ? judicial verdict, or official ?ehavior toward opposition group?. This is how the Egyptian administration is dealing with the s?atements by Margaret Scobey, th? US?/SPAN> a?bassador to Egypt, in which she comme?ted on the jailing of Dr. Saade?ine Ibrahim, the academic and h?man rights activist who was giv?n two years for harming the rep?tation of the country. The reac?ion of Egypt“s foreign minister, Ahm?d Abul Gheit, was one of disbel?ef. He did not believe Scobey”? description of the verdict as ?”shameful,” nor did he envisag? that the US ambassador was once agai? playing this game, even though?Washington had earlier ?ncountered harsh statements by ?/SPAN>Cairo when it criticized t?e domestic conditions in the co?ntry. No new Egyptian-US crisis?is looming on the horizon. Even?though he reacted sharply to th? ambassador”s remarks, Abul Gh?it left the door open for her t? retreat, when he linked his co?ments to doubts about the fact ?hat she actually made the remar?s. In turn, Scobey neither conf?rmed nor denied her remarks; sh? left the door open for analyst? to do their work, without clar?fying the matter either way. ?/SPAN>

It is n? secret that Egyptian political?circles, particularly in the op?osition, were not happy with th? appointment of Scobey as US?/st1:place> ambassad?r to . This was due not only to ?he information that circulated ?bout her stances vis-à-vis the?Arabs in general, but also to t?e good impression former ambass?dor, Francis Ricciardone, had left with Egyptians, with both politicians and the public. Ricciardone was keen to stay out of Egyptian domestic issues and avoided acts that might be construed as intervening in domestic matters. Meanwhile, Scobey preceded her tenure in Cairo with statements that provoked sharp reactions from Egyptian media; she created a conflict before she even officially took up her duties.


Until a new administration comes to the White House, US-Egyptian relations will remain at their current level. Among Egyptians, there is a feeling that the remnants of the Bush administration do not deal positively with Egyptian politics. In fact, during Bush”s two terms, which saw the lowest number of visits by President Mubarak to the US, Cairo has experienced a number of dilemmas, reflecting the divergence in the two sides” stances on several regional issues. This period has also highlighted contradictory stances on human rights, freedom and democracy issues inside Egypt.


In any case, the Egyptian opposition groups, which sometimes accuse the government of bowing to US directives on regional and even domestic issues, find themselves taking a different stance today. They have been surveying the angry reactions by Egyptian government officials and their use of sharp rhetoric when describing each criticism made by an American official of Egyptian domestic conditions, and this includes the US president himself. Upon observing the popular reactions to official stances on Washington, the picture always indicates the level of hatred the US administration has engendered in the Egyptian street; this works to the benefit of each Egyptian official who criticizes or challenges the Americans. The same hatred is what causes some opposition groups to shy away from any joint projects with US organizations, with regard to freedoms and democracy. The Egyptian people, like others, is aware that the Americans have double standards when they talk about democracy.