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The Military Relationship Between US and Egypt

Historical Overview

The diplomatic relations between the United states and Egypt were established in 1922 when Egypt finally gained independence from its protectorate status under the United Kingdom. Both the countries have a strong partnership that is based on their mutual interest in Middle east peace opportunity, economic stability and protection. One of the core objectives of the US policy is to ensure that the people of Egypt get the fair chance to grow, prosper, have a stable life while their basic rights are protected (Sharp et al 2005).

In 1952, the revolutionary Command Council military coup led by Gamal Abd al-Nasr that overthrew then King Faruk and the monarchy was backed by the United States. It is believed that military reformers had the best of interests at heart for Egypt but the US-Egypt relations were affected when colonels turned to the soviets in 1955 when the west refused defence assistance (Sharp et al 2005).

All through 1958 to 1967 the relation between US and Egypt remained strained. Eventually Egypt broke formal diplomatic relations in June 1967 Arab-Israeli war, as they believed that the United States had assisted Israel. It was only in 1970 when Anwar Al Sadat became the president and expelled the soviet advisors that the relationship between US and Egypt improved. In 1985, the US resumed its economic aid to Egypt after a 8 years hiatus.

One of the primary reason that the US has for interest in Egypt is the historical importance the country has in terms of leadership over the rest of the Arab world. The peacekeeping regime along the Egyptian -Israeli border, the Multi-National Force and Observers (MFO), and a rotating infantry battalion in the force- all initiatives by the US are a proof of that.

Current State of Affairs

Issue 1- Human Rights

In the current scenario, president Abdel Fatteh Sisi and US president Donald Trump maintain that the two countries still continue to enjoy a deep and beneficial bilateral relationship but the reality is far from ideal. The continuous emergence of Egypt’s despotic regime after the military takeover in 2013 has led to questions about the association. The continuous interest that the US continues to have over Egypt is shadowed by the increasing concerns around the human right issue. The US has always promoted reformative dramatic reform in the Egypt including expansion of political freedom pluralism and respect for human rights (Momani 2003). It can be said that in this regard, Egypt has barely shown any progress.

For instance, the Egypt’s mistreatment of US citizens. Like other Egyptians, the imprisoned Americans caught up in Egypt’s legal system have faced lengthy delays in resolution of their legal cases and have routinely been denied access to any evidence against them. More seriously, many have reported abuse and torture in prison. Other than that the state department reports reflect the levels of torture and trauma the Egyptian police officers inflict on individuals in order to gain confessions. They also detain suspects without charge or trial. The state of Egypt forbids freedom of assembly they are afraid it might give the public the opportunity to protest or raise their voices against the government. Most of the newspapers in the state are government owned, and even the ones that are not- they cannot voice any that criticizes the government. The absolute autocracy of the Egyptian leader has led to severe degradation in the deliverance quality of basic human rights (Yefet, Bosmat.2018).

Issue 2 – Military Assistance

The security assistance provided by the US is one of the most important pillars of this bilateral relationship. In the wake of the of the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty in 1979, this assistance had been expanded significantly. The US provides almost $1.3 billion of its military expenditure to Egypt every year. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) provided over $25 billion in economic and development assistance to Egypt between 1975 and 2002 (Albrecht, Holger, and Dina Bishara 2011).

In the past few years there has been shift towards more economic reform aid for education, civil society and for the financing of the private sector in Egypt. They aim to provide assistance from infrastructure, health, food supply, and agriculture toward market-based economic development, good governance, and training programmes. Because the political and social structures of the state are not sufficiently developed, foreign interventions are weakening it more.

The military assistance and economic assistance provided by the US is not seeing nay returns in the past few years and their political relationship is getting strained. The militant Islamic movement in Egypt is another concerning factor that is deterring the US. The straying away from secularism and the increasing influence of Muslim Brotherhood combined with relations with Israel is becoming more and more alarming and raising concerns (Hashim, Ahmed S. 2011).

The value of Egyptian military alliance is eroding more and more each day as questions are being raised about contributing to an increasingly repressive regime. Over the significance of Egypt’s military troops ahs also reduced for the US. Despite the investment, their fighting capabilities and political position is simply not advantageous for the US. Their increasing affiliations with Russia, close military ties and strategic partnership treaty that intends to expand military, trade, and other ties between the two countries is also a matter of concern for the US.

Course of Action

The increase in terrorist activities seen in the middle east Syria, Iraq, north Africa and Yemen require intensification of security cooperation. But this cannot be meddled with increased pressure by the US on Egypt, it has to be initiated by the Egyptian government without the interference from foreign countries.

The US administration has made suggestions regarding the restructuring of the military aid by reducing the amounts allocated for the purchase of weapons and equipment’s. More investments should be made in international military educational training as well as directing foreign military assistance to support the capabilities of the Egyptian military in the face of external threats such as border security and terrorism (Hashim, Ahmed S. 2011).

This will require change in the deep-seated generational ways of the military regime, and continuous convergence between the Egyptian and the U.S. militaries and the regional militaries in a way that we haven’t witnessed before.

References for Promoting Economic Liberalization in Egypt

Sharp, Jeremy M. "Egypt-United States Relations." In CRS Issue Brief for Congress, vol. 15, p. 14. 2005.

Elkady, Karim. "US–Egypt Relations." In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History. 2020.

Albrecht, Holger, and Dina Bishara. "Back on horseback: The military and political transformation in Egypt." Middle East Law and Governance 3, no. 1-2 (2011): 13-23.

Momani, Bessma. "Promoting economic liberalization in Egypt: From US foreign aid to trade and investment." Middle East 7, no. 3 (2003): 88-101.

Hashim, Ahmed S. "The Egyptian military, part one: From the Ottomans through Sadat." Middle East Policy 18, no. 3 (2011): 63-78.

Yefet, Bosmat. "The Egyptian human rights movement and the 2011 Revolution: the implications of a missed opportunity." British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies (2018): 1-18.

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