Cairo Washington Nexus: the Road Ahead
In April 2022, Egypt and the United States celebrated a century of diplomatic relations, a landmark achievement highlighting the power of cooperation and diplomacy amidst global conflict and economic disruption. The repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine have led to a global economic slowdown with rising inflation and supply chain disruptions causing serious financial hardship for people across the world.
This turbulent global context has further underscored the need for coordination and cooperation between Egypt and the United States, with the aim of expanding and consolidating their mutually beneficial strategic partnership.
Egypt continues to act as a pillar of stability in the Middle East while confronting an array of crises and challenges in the region. The decadeslong Israeli-Palestinian conflict is entering a new phase due to the radical settlement policies adopted by the new Israeli government. Egypt has played a mediating role in the conflict including by bringing peaceful resolutions to clashes in Gaza.
Diplomacy will resolve this longstanding conflict and Egypt is poised to play a leading role in bringing a peaceful solution that safeguards Israelis and Palestinians. Egypt also plays an active role in seeking peaceful settlements to conflicts in Libya, Syria and Yemen. It is vital that Egypt and the United States continue to work to restore stability to a turbulent yet pivotal region for both global and regional peace and security.
For decades, Egypt has been at the forefront of confronting the threat of terrorism, not only as a state but as a people. The Egyptian security forces have waged a relentless war on terrorism rooting out terrorist cells and thwarting numerous attacks on critical infrastructure, places of worship and the civilian population. Egypt has worked closely with the United States to eliminate terrorist groups in Sinai including destroying improvised explosive devices and seizing weapons materials.
The war on terrorism has special significance for Egyptians due to the events of 2012: The Egyptian people took a stand against terrorism and ended the one-year rule of the Muslim Brotherhood, a violent and extremist group designated as a terrorist organization in Egypt and beyond. The Brotherhood is responsible for killing and injuring thousands of civilians, police and military personnel, as well as attacks on Christian and Islamic places of worship. Its destructive ideology was a danger to Egypt, our neighbors and American security interests in the Middle East.
Upon taking office, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi took bold and decisive action to confront immediate challenges and address longstanding issues. The steps he took have set Egypt on a path towards stability and prosperity with a long-term vision of sustainable development for itself and the region.
Egypt has embarked on a journey towards a “New Republic,” taking measures, despite its own economic hardship, to improve the living conditions of millions of Egyptians. These improvements included launching presidential initiatives such as “Decent Life,” which aims to improve the living conditions of nearly 60 million Egyptians living in rural communities throughout the country, and upgrading physical infrastructure, as well as health and educational services.
The government is in the process of moving to the New Administrative Capital, which will ease the pressure on the overpopulated city of Cairo. This move will make housing more affordable and open new job opportunities for Egyptians — it is a decision that has been copied by other countries around the world facing overcrowded cities.
Advancing towards implementing the vision of a “New Republic,” and after a concerted national effort to restore stability and security in Egypt, the government decided to end the nearly five decades’ long national state of emergency.
Building on Egypt’s firm belief in the importance of the pressing need to improve human rights, Egypt launched its first ever National Strategy for Human Rights, which outlines the country’s detailed long-term plan to improve civil, political, economic and social rights. As part of this effort, the Presidential Pardon Committee was restored and issued a series of pardons for more than 1,000 detainees after a careful and detailed review in accordance with due process.
Egypt also launched a National Dialogue to create an inclusive forum comprising members of civil society, government representatives and the opposition to devise modern unified solutions to the challenges facing the country. In his most recent visit to Cairo in January 2023, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken praised the country’s recent economic reforms aimed at restoring economic stability, as well as the government’s continuing efforts to advance human rights.
A secure and stable Egypt is of vital importance not only to regional peace but global stability. Continued coordination between Egypt and the United States will deliver peace and stability to the Middle East with benefits for international commerce and development. The visit of U.S. President Joe Biden to Sharm El-Sheikh to participate in the COP27 Climate Summit, and the participation of El-Sisi in the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C., send a clear signal that ties between Egypt and the United States will remain strong and resilient.
Together, Egypt and the United States can chart a new course and build towards a secure, stable and prosperous region.
Sahar Zahran is an Egyptian journalist and foreign correspondent based in Washington, D.C. In over 24 years of reporting on national and international politics, she has covered a range of political beats, including Capitol Hill, the White House, political campaigns and foreign affairs. Zahran is a member of the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate and the Foreign Press Center in Washington. You can reach Al Ahram by email.