I was not alone in my profound disillusionment with the US administration on account of its stance against Egypt when the latter decided to rid herself of the harrowing Islamist post-Arab Spring rule of then President Muhammad Mursi. Mr Mursi was overthrown on 3 July 2013 after one disastrous year in office, as a result of massive nationwide demonstrations on 30 June 2013 demanding that he should go. The army took the side of the people and the Islamist regime was overthrown. I was not alone in losing confidence in the US when it chose to support Mr Mursi in stark disrespect of the will of the Egyptian people. I was not alone in my outrage and bitterness at the US administration’s hostility towards the Egyptian revolution of 30 June 2013, and its persistence in branding the Egyptian army’s alignment with the will of the people as a military coup against a legitimate, elected president. Such was my dismay at the obstinacy of the Americans in turning a blind eye to the goings-on on our land, that I kept repeating to every politician or media person I met, be that American or European, that post-MB Egypt must very carefully reassess her strategic relations with the US and West Europe poles. Serious questions regarding these relations arose as it became obvious they were exploited for Western interests alone, to the detriment of the interests of Egypt and Egyptians.
It made sense then that Egypt should work a rapprochement with Russia and China, which I duly applauded. The revival of warm political, economic and
military relations with the two countries had the effect of warning the West that Egypt will never be a helpless, dependent follower. Even though Egypt was not giving up on old friends, she would work on gaining new ones. The remarkable wisdom of the Egyptian administration in dealing with this issue impressed me.
US stances towards Egypt were far from consistent. The White House persisted in obstinacy and arrogance. It rejected the will of Egyptians and their achievements following the 30 June Revolution, disavowed their Roadmap to democracy and their war against terrorism, and the US President on several occasions met leaders of the terrorist MB. Congress and Pentagon, however, exported a more rational and realistic address. It intrigued me why the US President was so intransigent; possibly because his term in office was drawing to an end, or because of difficulty in changing his stance without losing face?
Reports by American political research centres upon which the US draws for policy making clearly exposed what had taken place and was ongoing in Egypt. They reported the scale of destruction Mr Mursi had inflicted upon the Egyptians who had elected him, how he damaged Egypt’s strategic interests and disdained and abused her identity in his attempt to turn her into an Islamic State. The result: Egyptians rebelled. The reports confirmed that Egypt is now in the midst of political, economic, social, cultural and religious reform, and that this reform is endorsed by the majority of Egyptians.
President Sisi’s visit to Russia earlier this month to join in celebrations of the 70th anniversary of Russia’s victory over the Nazis confirmed that Egyptian Russian relations were in a honeymoon phase even as Egyptian US relations were too tepid. A few days later, however, President Sisi met Commander of the US Central Command General Lloyd Austin, and stressed Egypt’s keenness on strategic relations with the US. He praised all aspects of this relation and expressed wishes to nurture and develop it. On his part, Austin applauded the success and firm steps Egypt was taking on the road to political and economic development. He acknowledged the regional role Egypt is playing, and the Egyptian attempt to promote an enlightened, moderate religious address in the face of extremist, terrorist thought. Austin stressed US keenness to cooperate and work with Egypt.
The turn-around in US and Egyptian stances appeared as remarkable as it was unexpected, and drove me to dig into what might have triggered it. I found the answer in a paper by American researcher Eric Trager of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, which he had presented in a hearing at a Congressional Testimony. The paper, “Egypt Two Years after Morsi”, includes a thorough analysis from an American viewpoint. I care to highlight a few important passages:
This research paper is important in that it sheds light on the changes in the US policy vis-à-vis Egypt in the upcoming period, and eliminates surprise at political scenes that may unfold.
31 May 2015