24 - 30 August 2000
Issue No. 496
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875|
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Enabling understandingSir- Abdel-Moneim Said's analysis of Egyptian-American relations ("A case of histrionics", Al-Ahram Weekly, 17-23 August) concludes that "neither side has made sufficient attempts to study the history, political system and sensitivities of the other. In short, there is an enormous gap in knowledge about the other." This undeniable gap is precisely what the activities of the American Research Center in Egypt are intended to address -- and from both sides. The centre facilitates scholarly studies by Americans in Egypt, while also providing educational opportunities for Egyptian scholars in the United States. A new Scholars in Residence Programme will bring Egyptian and American academics together regularly in Cairo to discuss and analyse issues of mutual concern.
The centre would still better address the lacunae in knowledge and understanding identified by Dr Said were both governments to provide yet stronger support for it and the scholars assisted by it. Bureaucratic obstacles that impede the easy movement of Egyptian scholars to the United States should be removed. Laborious procedures required to obtain approvals for research by American scholars in Egypt -- always done in collaboration with or under supervision by Egyptian scholars -- should be streamlined.
Scholarly undertakings, as Dr Said implies, are not just for the sake of erudite knowledge. They also should help inform and shape public discourse on important national issues. Recognising this need, the centre strongly encourages participation by Egyptian and American citizens in its activities. By so doing it hopes to contribute to strengthening the foundations for yet more stable and enduring relations between the two countries.
Robert Springborg Director, American Research Center in Egypt
The missile linkSir- Originally I did not think much about the theory that the EgyptAir plane was hit accidentally by a US missile. But now, after reports that two pilots (a German and a Jordanian) have witnessed missile activity in the area where the plane went down, I think this should at least be looked upon as a possibility. On this basis, the Egyptian Pilots' Federation's request for releasing the radar images that relate to the incident is totally justified.
By the way, in July 1988, the US navy accidentally downed an Iranian airliner, killing over 300 people. Interestingly, the US acknowledged the incident, yet never issued an official apology to the Iranian people for the mistake.
I think including such technical evidence (the radar images) and direct witness accounts (the two pilots) in the NTSB report is no less, and is in fact far more, relevant than including documents that say that a New York hotel had considered banning the Egyptian pilot because of alleged lewd behavior.
To me, suggesting that the EgyptAir plane was deliberately downed by its pilot because he uttered the words "I rely on God" in the final moments is no stronger an argument then saying that the plane was shot down because two pilots from other aircraft saw missiles near the crash area.
I can understand why the Egyptian Pilots' Federation is now demanding that the NTSB hand over the probe to a third party if it fails to release this key evidence.