Tuesday,25 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1303, (14 - 20 July 2016)
Tuesday,25 September, 2018
Issue 1303, (14 - 20 July 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Egypt’s voice in America

It is important that Egypt make its opinions known to American lawmakers by multiplying contacts with the US Congress, writes congressman Steve Stockman

Al-Ahram Weekly

Egyptians always ask me questions about America and American foreign policy.

As someone who served on the foreign affairs, banking and science committees in the United States Congress, I can give first-hand insight into how America views Egypt and Egyptians.

Many Americans have travelled to Egypt to visit its historical civilisation and landmarks, including my own mother, and they have a great love for Egypt and the Egyptian people. Likewise, many Egyptians have visited America, and still others live in the United States. What many Egyptians may not understand is the difference between the three branches of the US government.

Understanding the difference between the three branches of the US government is important to understanding how America works. Theoretically, the three branches have equal power. But in truth the president oversees the state department and foreign affairs. If Congress disagrees with the president’s policies it can try to override them by passing laws countering them.

It appears that President Barack Obama does not have a clear understanding of the second wave of the Egyptian Revolution. Friends in Congress have tried to fight and counter the misguided policies of Obama. Many have pushed for not just making sure Egypt can defend itself against its enemies, but also for increasing ties militarily, economically and diplomatically with the United States.

While in office congressman get many visitors. Some officials from countries in the Middle East and around the world frequently came to my office to discuss the situation in their countries. But it is impossible for anyone to know all the important issues about every country, which is why it is critically important for members of Congress, members of the foreign affairs committee, and senators to be educated on the current needs of Egypt.

From my experience, I believe friendship and ties can be straightened out through the education of members of Congress. Remember there are only 536 people who make decisions for 333 million Americans. Therefore, it is vitally important to educate the members of Congress and other influential people in America.

From my experience of the number of visits and communications I got from other countries around the world when I was a member of the US Congress, there is an opportunity for Egypt to increase its contacts with Congress. Egypt should focus on getting greater help to members who are sympathetic to it, just as many groups and other countries in the US reward friends and punish foes.

Some countries spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year to ensure that the US Congress understands their position. It is important that America and Egypt treat each other with respect and that Americans understand the long relationship their country has with Egypt.

The writer is a former US Republican Party congressman for Texas.

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