Thursday, 19 June 2014

US-Egypt: strain in relations?

US-Egypt strain in relations?

The US has yet to officially extend an invitation to President El-Sisi following his inauguration on 8 June, including for a US-Africa Leaders’ Summit set to take place on 5-6 August. Although President Barack Obama has called El-Sisi to congratulate him on his electoral victory, his call came days after most countries had already extended their congratulations.

Illustrating the strain in relations between the two countries, a proposed Senate foreign aid bill would cut aid to Egypt by US$400 million (Egypt currently receives approximately US$1.5 billion in annual military and economic aid). While many Western states continue to harbour reservations towards the politics of Egypt’s new leadership, we do expect that as President El-Sisi’s administration settles into office, a slow rapprochement will begin to take place.

In our visit to Washington DC last week, it is clear that there is an element of discomfort about Egypt and its seemingly one-sided political process, heavy-handed judiciary and a lack of institution building. It seems to be perceived in several institutions in Washington that Egypt’s authorities do not really care about these concerns, knowing that the US government will not cut aid substantially for years.

There is hope in Washington that there will be a political calming in Egypt but there is also a high scepticism that the body politic will not be inclusive and that figures will create a one-sided narrative that does not allow for critique. It is clear that discussions in Washington about how to engage productively with Egypt will continue for some time, with frustration with a lack of process and real engagement set to rise.

For more news and expert analysis about Egypt, please see Egypt Politics & Security.

© 2014 Menas Associates

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