CAIRO: The new US administration has turned its back on concerns over Egypt’s internal political issues for regional cooperation, a policy report released from Washington stated.
“After years of tension resulting from the last administration s focus on human rights and democratic development, the traditional US-Egyptian bilateral ‘bargain’ has been effectively restored, said the report published by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy Wednesday.
“In exchange for cooperation on key mutual interests – the peace process and the Iranian threat – Washington appears to have shelved longstanding concerns over internal Egyptian governance, said authors David Schenker and J. Scott Carpenter.
With President Hosni Mubarak due in Washington next week to meet US President Barack Obama, it appears that the constant criticism that used to emanate from the Bush administration when relations were at a low is a thing of the past.
Egypt has not been passive in this, releasing former presidential candidate Ayman Nour from incarceration early in what was seen as an overture to the then newly elected Obama.
The report highlights that human rights and democracy initiatives have deteriorated in Egypt since 2005, when the first presidential elections in the country’s history was held.
Despite this deterioration, relations have improved between Egypt and America since Obama’s election, mainly due to shared and mutual interests in the region, with Egypt acting as the broker between Israel and Hamas and also countering the perceived “Iranian threat.
The stance against Iran has been exemplified the most in Egypt’s overt willingness in allowing Israeli warships to pass through the Suez Canal which seemed to indicate an Egyptian-Israeli cooperation against Iran, according to the report.
“Most importantly for a country that has seen its influence and image in the Arab world erode during the past three decades, President Obama rewarded Cairo with a presidential visit and inaugural address to the ‘Muslim world,’ playing to Egypt s conceit as the heart of the Arab, if not Muslim, world, said the report.
“Although he mentioned democracy in an anodyne manner during the Cairo speech, the president failed to refer directly to Egypt or to challenge the Arab world in the same way he challenged Africans just one week later in Ghana, it continued.
The report concluded by indicating that though the relationship between the two countries has improved significantly under Obama, and Egypt is a key strategic partner, it “is also troubled, facing enormous socioeconomic challenges and questions of the regime’s governance should be reintroduced.