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Washington and Cairo go back to their roots Open in fullscreen

Khalil Anani

Washington and Cairo go back to their roots

The US and Egypt reviewed relations following the 2013 military coup [Getty]

Date of publication: 3 April, 2015

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Comment: Despite US assurances that it is committed to democracy and human rights in the region, its relationship with Sisi tells a different story.

US President Barack Obama has lifted a ban on limited arms supplies to Egypt. 

Military aid to Cairo was frozen as an expression of Washington's indignation at the 3 July 2013 military coup. 

The lifting of the ban on military aid to Egypt was not unanticipated.

Washington is embroiled in a war with the Islamic State group (IS, formerly known as Isis) and it is looking to strengthen relations with its traditional allies in the region - such as Egypt. 

Aid freeze

It is becoming more apparant that the "weapons' freeze" by Barack Obama was an attempt to save face following the coup, rather than a commitment to democracy or respect for human rights.

This is in addition to pressure from Congress members, especially the pro-Israel Zionist lobby, for the resumption of military aid to Cairo.  

President Obama is following in the footsteps of his predecessors who supported the regime of Hosni Mubarak over the past three decades and replaced democracy with repression on the pretext of security and stability.

He sees in the regime of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, despite its crimes and disasters, a strategic ally that should not be lost or abandoned under any circumstances.

Whoever follows the statements of the US state and defence secretaries, discover the extent to which the Obama administration has abandoned its push for democracy and human rights in Egypt. 

In return, the US has bolstered its strategic military relations with Cairo.

The secretary of state has said more than once that Egypt is heading towards democracy, and it should be supported to achieve security and stability.

The secretary of defence, in phone conversations with his Egyptian counterpart, underlined Washington's keenness to resume aid and cement military and logistic cooperation between the two countries.

Sisi has played a smart game with Obama and his administration.

He managed to cajole Obama into resuming the delivery of aid, sometimes through begging, displays of "loyalty", and gentle threats. This was seen in an interview the president gave with The Wall Street Journal.

"If Washington turns its back on Cairo, the latter will not do the same."

Using a different method, Sisi introduced himself as a religious reformer, seeking to launch a religious "revolution" to confront radical ideologies and trends.

Egypt is now second only to Israel as the largest recipient of US aid.  

     The decision to resume aid to the Sisi regime proves clearly that democracy in Egypt is not, and will never be, a US interest.

Warming relations

The decision to resume aid to the Sisi regime proves clearly that democracy in Egypt is not, and will never be, a US interest.

This is what US researcher Jason Brownlee affirmed in his important book, Democracy Prevention: The Politics of the US-Egyptian Alliance, on four decades of relations between Cairo and Washington.

Brownlee believes that Washington is one of the key parties responsible for the failure of democracy in Egypt during this time because of its support for authoritarianism and tyranny, especially in Mubarak's era.

Therefore, when the January revolution was launched, the United States floundered, and it did not support the revolution. It was merely trying to clone the regime of Mubarak - with a new head and form - so its strategic interests in the region would not be affected. 

Now it can be said that relations between Cairo and Washington are back to being interdependent, as they were before the 2011 revolution.

The first protects the US interests in the region, the most important of which is to guarantee a smooth passage of US tankers through the Suez Canal, and the freedom to use Egypt's airspace in US military operations in the region.

In return, Egypt will receive an annual sum of $1.3 billion in US aid.

It is the old deal then, which is being repeated again. Yet now it is in an uglier and more offensive form.

The Mubarak regime was autocratic and tyrannical, but it did not commit the same crimes and violations that Sisi's regime has committed over the past two years.

This will remain a stain on Obama's foreign policy record for decades to come.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition. 

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.

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