Cairo initiated the contract with the lobby company, “Braunstein Hyatt Farber”, coinciding with Biden’s arrival in power, for the traditional confirmation of Egypt’s important role for Washington in the Middle East.
Many Egyptian and American circles have expressed their surprise that Washington has agreed to sell military equipment to the Egyptian army, whose value is close to 200 million dollars, coinciding with its confirmation of communication with the Egyptian government about human rights concerns.
The US State Department confirmed that the deal supports US foreign policy and national security by helping improve the security of a non-NATO ally.
Ned Rice, the State Department spokesman, indicated that the arms sale announced to Egypt has nothing to do with the issue of their expressing their concern about the human rights situation in Egypt, noting that the two matters are different from each other.
Rice added that the approval would not limit Washington’s ability to continue focusing on human rights issues. “I raised the news of the Muhammad Sultan family. We will not tolerate attacks and threats by foreign governments against American citizens and their families,” Rice added.
In order to understand the contradiction between the arms sale dilemma and criticism of the human rights record, Al Jazeera Net presents 4 points that contribute to understanding the complexities of this dual American position.
First, campaign rhetoric differs from political practices
During the 2020 presidential campaign, Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate, described in a tweet Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi as “Trump’s favorite dictator,” and said he would not allow him to be given more blank checks.
Biden also denounced the arrest, exile and torture of activists such as Sarah Hegazy and Mohamed Sultan, and the intimidation of their families, welcoming the recent return of the American activist of Egyptian descent, Muhammad Amasha.
Mohamed Amashah is finally home after 486 days in Egyptian prison for holding a protest sign. Arresting, torturing, and exiling activists like Sarah Hegazy and Mohamed Soltan or threatening their families is unacceptable. No more blank checks for Trump’s “favorite dictator.” https://t.co/RtZkbGh6ik
– Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) July 12, 2020
But the campaign rhetoric does not represent an official position, as Biden adopted a similar position on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and promised to punish Riyadh for the crime of Jamal Khashoggi. But new Foreign Minister Anthony Blinken has reaffirmed Riyadh’s central role in Washington’s Middle East policy.
Campaign speeches aim to attack the rival and his political positions, and Biden’s attack on Sisi represented an indirect attack on his then rival, Donald Trump.
Second: The US arms sale process is complicated and long
The US arms sale currency takes long months and years in some cases, and this matter was indicated by the military expert, David de Roch, a former warrior and assistant professor at the Near East and South Asia Center at the American National Defense University, in his interview with Al Jazeera Net that there are no weapons on the shelves of the stores Waiting for the buyer to get it upon payment.
He added that the arms sale process includes a long process that takes months, and work begins in the arms factories after the contract and after obtaining the final government approvals, and therefore the Biden administration did not make the decision to conclude a new arms deal with Egypt, and this was a timing that the new administration did not control.
In a related context, Michael Dunn, director of the Middle East program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, indicated to Al Jazeera Net that making these arms sales takes time – usually months – to work in bureaucratic circles. So the timing seems to be a very unfortunate coincidence, “I do not imagine that there is a deliberate message, that human rights problems will not have any impact on defense relations.”
Third: There are no important appointments regarding the Egyptian file
The importance of the Egyptian issue among the Biden administration’s foreign policy files is clearly low, even compared to the rest of the Middle East files.
Dan indicated that no one is responsible within the Biden administration for Washington’s policy towards Egypt yet, adding that the few high-level officials who have been named to deal with the Middle East have other priorities, such as Iran, Iraq, Yemen and Saudi Arabia, as she put it.
“It is clear that the Middle East is not only at the top of Biden and Blinken’s list of priorities, but even among Middle Eastern issues, and Egypt is not a priority. It may take some time for Biden’s policy toward Egypt to become clear. One thing is really clear,” Dan emphasized. Al-Sisi no longer has a close friend in the White House. “
Fourth: President Trump was the exception
Since the recent establishment of Washington’s relations with Cairo, which accompanied the peace initiative with Israel, Washington has known a duality of conflict that contradicts strategic interests with democratic values.
For decades, Washington’s policies towards Egypt were not affected by the arrival of a democratic or republican administration to the White House. The administration of former President Donald Trump was the only exception, as calls for democratic values in dealing with Egypt were completely ignored, and Trump did not care about Cairo’s deteriorating record on issues of democracy or human rights.
The bilateral relations between Cairo and Washington will see a return to the usual duality of conflict of interests and principles.
Representatives of Congress Tom Malinowski (Democrat – New Jersey) and Dan Bayer (Democrat – Virginia) formed a human rights bloc in Egypt in the House of Representatives, as some members of Congress expressed their dissatisfaction with Egypt’s human rights record, at a time when the focus will be on Egypt’s pivotal role. In his strategy in the Middle East.
For its part, Cairo initiated a contract with the lobby company, “Braunstein Hyatt Farber”, at a monthly value of $ 65,000, coinciding with Biden’s arrival in power, as a traditional affirmation of Egypt’s important role for Washington in the Middle East.