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Opinion| Egyptian-American relations and the arms deal
Published in Daily News Egypt on 03 - 03 - 2021

In interstate relations, there are neither permanent friendships nor permanent enmities, but interests always govern this type of relationship.
There is no compliment or equivocation. When common interests require countries to take a step, it takes place immediately, and this is what we saw a few days ago when the administration of US President Joe Biden announced that it had agreed to a deal to sell missiles worth $197m to Egypt.
The US State Department confirmed, in a statement, that the proposed sale of missiles and related equipment "will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States, by helping improve the security of a major non-NATO ally that remains an important strategic partner in the Middle East".
The statement added, "The proposed sale will support the fast missile carrier ships of the Egyptian Navy and will also provide greatly improved defence capabilities to the Egyptian coastal areas and the entrances to the Suez Canal."
The announcement of the deal comes despite the Biden administration not yet having communicated with the Egyptian administration at a high level. The current time emphasises the partnership between the two countries, and the importance of Egypt as a strategic ally of Washington in a region surrounded by widespread political turmoil.
This certainly reflects broader cooperation in the field of security and combating terrorism, as Biden views Cairo as an important partner in confronting terrorism and preserving peace in the region.
Egypt enjoys long-term military relations with the US. However, at the same time, it has had historical relations with Russia since the mid-1950s, and it fought all its wars with Eastern weapons that it obtained when Russia was known as the Soviet Union.
Currently, Egypt has re-established this coordination and military relations with Russia through a policy of diversifying weapons sources that has been expanded in the past six years. The two countries have exchanged high-level visits, and in 2019 Cairo and Moscow signed an agreement worth $2bn to buy 20 fighter Sukhoi–35 jets.
Under US law, Congress will have 30 days to review the deal, as observers expect that the radical wing within the Democratic Party will object to the deal. This will be based on considerations related to allegations in the human rights file, especially since the Biden administration confirmed the adoption of a tough stance on human rights violations around the world, including among allies of the US.
"We will bring our values with us to all our relationships around the world. This includes our close security partners. Including Egypt," State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said.
Egypt knows that it will always be targeted, whether by external or regional parties, especially in light of the successes and leaps it has achieved in some issues such as the Libyan and Palestinian files.
Also, it insists on preserving its active role in the Eastern Mediterranean region, which is the political trend that strongly undermines the sabotage role that Turkey is playing with suspicious funds from Qatar.
Egypt also has many political and strategic options to abort any attempt to destabilise its stability and security, especially as it has already dealt strongly with the implications of the human rights file. This is in light of the presence of the first sponsor of the Arab Spring revolutions, former US president Barack Obama, while he was in power.
Egypt at the time succeeded in countering all the pressures imposed by Washington on Cairo at a time when it was facing a street war led by the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood movement and its arms in the region.
By Dr Hatem Sadek, Professor at Helwan University

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