Egypt's New Regime and the Future of the U.S.-Egyptian Strategic Relationship
Authored by Gregory Aftandilian.
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This monograph examines the strategic importance of Egypt for the United States by exploring Egypt's role in the Arab-Israeli peace process, its geographical role (providing air and naval access) for U.S. military assets heading to the Persian Gulf, and joint training programs. With so much at stake in the Middle East, the idea of "losing" Egypt as a strategic ally would be a significant setback for the United States. The Egyptian revolution of early 2011 was welcomed by U.S. officials because the protestors wanted democratic government which conformed to U.S. ideals, and the institution that would shepherd the transition, the Egyptian military, had close ties with the United States. To bolster the U.S.-Egyptian relationship and help keep Egypt on the democratic path, the monograph recommends that U.S. military aid should not be cut, economic aid should be increased, and U.S. administration officials should not oppose congressional conditions tying aid to democratic norms because it signals U.S. support for democracy. The United States should continue to speak out for free and fair elections and other international norms, but should avoid commentating on the role of religion and Islamic law in the Egyptian Constitution. Helping the Egyptian military deal with the extremist threat in the Sinai, which the United States has already offered, should also be continued. The U.S. Army should continue to advocate for military-to-military contacts, encourage their Egyptian counterparts to continue to attend U.S. professional military educational institutions, engage with Egyptian counterparts on regional threat assessments, and advocate for a reactivation of the Bright Star exercises. What U.S. Army officials and officers should do is avoid getting into discussions with Egyptian military officers about Egyptian domestic politics, and drop any interest they may have in convincing Egypt to opt for a “more nimble” force because Egyptian defense officials would see it as an effort to weaken the Egyptian military.
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