A late night call last Thursday between American President Donald Trump and Egyptian Abdel Fattah al-Sisi exemplifies an important time in Egyptian-American relations.
A late night call between Donald Trump and Egyptian president Sisi last Thursday night proved to be important as Trump made his intentions for stable Egyptian-American relations clear. The controversial president of America expressed his desire to develop a working relationship between the two countries, and spoke of “overcoming any obstacles” that may affect relations.
These obstacles that Trump mentioned may have something to do with the US’s denial of $95.7 million dollars in aid and withholding of $195 million in military aid amidst failure in the Egyptian state’s progress in human rights and democracy.
Egypt, although arguably better in its human rights practises since Sisi came into power, has a long way to go, especially in regards to how it treats its NGO’s. A new law passed in Egypt seeks to heavily regulate non-governmental organizations and charities in Egypt, a move seen by many as an excuse to repress civil society and subdue any threat of uprising. American aid to Egypt has been a practice for 30 years, with nearly $80 billion being given to the country’s military and economic initiatives. This new development may seem indignant to Egyptian President Sisi. All this may have been the reason Trump called the Egyptian leader Thursday.
Egypt is crucial to America’s relationship with the Middle East and with this cut to Egyptian aid, Trump has a stake in reassuring the Egyptian government of its importance to Washington. With Trump’s senior advisor Jared Kushner trying his hand in peace efforts between Israel and Palestine, and the Qatar blockade crisis threatening stability in the region, a working relationship with Egypt is vital to America’s presence in the Middle East.
Trump’s America and Egypt
America needs a strong relationship with Egypt and the obstacle of aid cuts makes it harder for both countries to get on good terms with each other. Indeed Egypt’s foreign ministry itself said that the aid cuts may have “negative implications” towards interests for both parties. And as Trump’s America sees itself in hard times both in its domestic and foreign spheres, having stable relations with countries in volatile regions like the Middle East becomes crucial to any sense of cohesion and stability in the country’s government.
It is important to note that American relations with Egypt may not exactly be like past relations. Trump may find his own way of dealing with Egypt, perhaps working with Sisi in some capacity to rejuvenate relations between the two. Perhaps Sisi may overlook the aid cut in favor of creating stronger relations with the powerful western ally.
Trump’s America is unpredictable and so is its foreign relations. What is certain is that the two countries mustwork together in order to succeed in their respective agendas. Egypt needs aid from America, and America needs Egypt as a partner in stabilizing the Middle East. And without adequate ties between both countries as well as sincere diplomatic efforts between the two, American and Egyptian relations will remain at a standstill. And make no mistake, this standstill will serve only to deepen the divide between both countries, until ultimately relations between the two will collapse.