At a private dinner in the British capital, I asked a veteran politician – I will keep his name anonymous - about Egypt's relations with America. He - who is very close to the decision-making circle there – said: “Sustain the road map and do not take into consideration any other process because there is no one in America against Egypt.” Two days later, a U.S. decision to partially suspend military aid to Egypt was issued. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry commented saying “this is not, in any way, a withdrawal from our commitment or the termination of our efforts to help the government.” Such a comment leads to Egyptian backlash, all of which leads to the campaign that some newspapers launched via their headlines: “U.S. aid can go to hell.”
This is a sample of the most refined expressions floated in this heated atmosphere. Not surprising since the U.S. position has traumatized the people’s will several times since the June 30 revolution. The words of the U.S. politician at the dinner I attended may seem true regarding his advice to proceed with the road map, but I believe he was just being courteous or he was not aware of what he said when he stressed that no one is against Egypt. What is sure is that there are influential groups that may be personally headed by Obama who preached after the fall of their previous ally Mursi that the American-Egyptian relations will not return to normal again.
America has turned its back on the Egyptians, as Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said. Egyptian people do not understand the American position that insists on retaining the role of the Brotherhood in Egyptian politics, despite what the Brotherhood has done to Egypt and the Egyptian people.
Will Egypt surrender to this decision? Will it try to appease Obama and those around him?Abdel Latif el-Menawy
This includes the Brotherhood-led violence and terror that burned Egypt through armed sit-ins, destruction of institutions and official and civilian installations, burning churches, destruction of hospitals, universities and museums, creating a state of organized terrorism that strained the country and then led to its collapse. Egyptians think that America is waging a war against Egypt under a loose slogan of promoting democracy. They believe that America is following two main strategies to achieve this; the first is the partial suspension of military aid to Egypt, and the second is supporting terrorism, extremism and armed groups to drain the Egyptian economy, provoke the army and police on the streets and destroy Egypt’s basic economic resources.
The U.S. administration could not understand the nature and importance of the relations between the two countries, which were established in the nineteenth century upon signing the business treaty between America and Turkey on May 7, 1830. Afterwards, the relations were officially recognized and a U.S. consulate was opened in 1832. As for the military relations between Egypt and the United States, they began in 1976 and soon these relations evolved and Egypt occupied second place in the list of countries that receive U.S. military aid. After reaching an agreement between the two countries, a plan to improve the Egyptian armed forces was implemented and through this Egypt became one of the countries that was able to acquire American loans to buy U.S. weapons, known as a foreign military sales loan. Before their last provocative decision, the agreement allowed the U.S. to annually provide $1.55 billion in aid to Egypt, including $1.3 billion for the army.
What happens now?
Will Egypt surrender to this decision? Will it try to appease Obama and those around him? I think that the answer is decisive at this stage because Egypt is no longer the old Egypt that the Americans got used to. The desire and ability to challenge have reached their heyday, and this is what triggered the official severe reaction that described the U.S. decision as erroneous in terms of content and timing. It clearly pointed out that Egypt will continuously and systematically work to ensure its “vital needs,” especially the national security requirements. Observers saw that as a clear allusion to the possibility of receiving arms and needs from alternative sources. In the same context, an official military source announced that if the U.S. cuts the military aid, the armed forces will be free to get armaments and spare parts from all countries of the world, especially other super powers.
They say every cloud has a silver lining. Therefore, such a decision will make Egypt reconsider the idea of relying on one single international power and may encourage them to give up on U.S. aid. At that time it will have to increase its choices and sources, particularly in terms of arms. Considering this, China, Russia and India are among the strongest forces. Another important point is that the events of July 3rd and what Egypt was subjected to after the retreat of international powers such as the United States and the West, proved that some Arab countries will always provide the real support for Egypt. This is the perfect time to take serious steps towards rebuilding and restructuring Egyptian-Arab relations for the regional and international maintenance and cohesion of the Arab world. The possibility of an important Arab axis include potential interest from the likes of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
This article was first published in al-Jarida on Oct. 12, 2013.
Abdel Latif el-Menawy is an author, columnist and multimedia journalist who has covered conflicts around the world. He is the author of “Tahrir: the last 18 days of Mubarak,” a book he wrote as an eyewitness to events during the 18 days before the stepping down of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Menawy’s most recent public position was head of Egypt’s News Center. He is a member of the National Union of Journalists in the United Kingdom, and the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate. He can be found on Twitter @ALMenawy
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