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Agreements and Tensions in US-Egyptian Relations

Author: Sahar Khamis 

Affiliation: Arab Center Washington DC and University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland, USA)

Organization/Publisher: Arab Center Washington DC

Date/Place: December 2, 2021/Washington DC, USA 

Type of Literature: Article

Word Count: 2126



Keywords: USA, Egypt, Human Rights, and Israel 


The author explains the relationship between the US and Egypt, starting with the annual US-Egypt strategic dialogue which was held in Washington. This year’s summit was particularly significant since it took place in the aftermath of major regional upheavals like the coup in Sudan. For several factors, including its strategic position, Egypt has long been an important geo-strategic ally for the United States. The author states that Egyptian regimes use “preserving stability” as an excuse to impose harsh policies and curtail liberties, and that the Egyptian administration is gaining national legitimacy and consolidating influence abroad. This also allows Egypt to improve its collaboration with major countries in the battle against terrorism. The second major focus is Egypt’s relationship with Israel, which is regarded as critical to US national security. The Egyptian administration was eager to please the US by taking several superficial measures, one of which was lifting the Emergency Law. However, many additional oppressive tactics and legislation are still in effect in Egypt, including the adoption of new “emergency-like laws.” Another move was the creation of Egypt’s first national human rights policy. Meanwhile, the Egyptian government boasts about its plans to construct new correctional institutions that meet international standards, but critics argue that the government’s goal is to improve its worldwide image, and that rather than building additional jails to house huge numbers of inmates, it should spend on new schools and hospitals. Despite the US government’s verbal focus on the significance of fixing Egypt’s human rights status, the Biden Administration has taken only little and ineffective measures. There have been no demonstrable effects or significant policy changes as a result. Indeed, to human rights groups and activists, as well as Egyptian government opponents, the Biden Administration’s unwillingness to take a firmer or more definitive stance on Egypt’s human rights violations is becoming increasingly apparent. To the author there are two main scenarios: First, Egypt will lose its essential strategic position as a stable and stabilizing country in the region if there is a rise in turbulence and unrest as a result of harsh political persecution. The second option is that Egypt launches unplanned international actions against US economic and military adversaries (i.e. China and Russia). The US may take retaliatory measures as a result of this. Or there is the possibility that nothing will change as the US is increasingly adopting the maxim of returning to basics—prioritizing collaboration, peace, and protection over democracy and human rights. 

By: Zeina Akif, CIGA Research Intern



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