Saturday,21 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1210, (21 - 27 August 2014)
Saturday,21 July, 2018
Issue 1210, (21 - 27 August 2014)

Ahram Weekly

Same old strategic ally

Egypt-US relations were discussed during President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi’s meeting with a US delegation this week, reports Reem Leila

Al-Ahram Weekly

President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi met with a US delegation headed by Congressman Darrell Issa on 1 August, a few days after his return from a visit to Moscow and Saudi Arabia. The meeting was held at the Al-Ittihadiya Palace and was also attended by David Ranz, US Chargé d’Affaires to Egypt.

Al-Sisi’s two-day visit to Russia, the first since he came to power last June, was widely discussed in the context of Egypt’s world alliances. During his meeting with Issa, Al-Sisi discussed bilateral relations between Egypt and the US as well as other issues of mutual interests such as combating terrorism, unrest in Libya, Israeli attacks on Gaza, Syria and Iraq.

Al-Sisi explained that Egypt is currently facing both internal and external challenges, stressing the need to address the reasons that led to the spread of “the radical orientation” in the region. According to Al-Sisi, poverty, ignorance, the passive role of some media and distorted religious rhetoric are among the most important. In this context, Al-Sisi underlined the importance of cooperation through an integrated system to correct mistakes and address problems.

The president also noted that Egypt was expecting the US to extend its support to combat terrorism, in light of the responsibilities of the two countries to maintain international peace and security. Al-Sisi and Issa also discussed economic cooperation between the two countries and the Suez Canal development project.

Concerning the latest developments in Libya, Al-Sisi held NATO responsible for the deteriorating security and political situation, since it was NATO’s incomplete military operations that left the country without a police force or a national army. The president also referred to Egypt’s economic development plan, and spoke about efforts by the state to create an attractive investment climate conducive to Arab and foreign, including US, investments.

For his part Issa told Al-Sisi that the US is not concerned about his visit to Russia. “Our mutual relationship is strong, ongoing and strategic, and it will be strengthened within the upcoming period,” he said. They then discussed the ongoing turmoil in Sinai as well as the mayhem along the Libya-Egypt border, and looked into how to combat terrorism.

Issa also brought up the significant role Egypt is playing in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations to reach a permanent truce. Issa and Al-Sisi also talked about military relations, and Issa assured Al-Sisi that the US will continue to provide Egypt’s army with military training and weapons.

The congressman noted that he came to Egypt after concerns over the rise of terrorism and unrest in the region, citing ISIS as an example. “One of the toughest challenges facing Egypt as well as the Middle East region is fighting those groups,” he said.

Immediately after the meeting, Issa gave a press conference at which he announced that Al-Sisi would be welcomed by the US administration if he decided to visit America. “Egypt is a US strategic ally and can contribute to efforts to contain the terrorist threat in the region,” he said, explaining that the US has allocated $500 million in aid to Egypt and that an additional $1 billion will be allocated for the next fiscal year. Issa added that military cooperation between the two countries is set to grow in the future through a number of joint projects, including one for the assembly of M1A1 tanks in Egypt. 

Following Al-Sisi’s visit to Russia, a US State Department deputy spokesperson said, “Egypt is free to have relationships with whoever it wants. Al-Sisi is playing a leading role in transforming to democracy in Egypt.” In his turn, Issa said, “Egypt is an important country for regional security and it is normal that Russia wants to have relations with Egypt.” Al-Sisi had earlier received Issa back in September, when Al-Sisi was still the minister of defence, to discuss strategic relations between the two countries.

Regarding the Human Rights Watch report on the dispersal of the Rabaa and Al-Nahda sit-ins last year, Issa said the United States supports the values ​​of human rights and Egypt must work to reduce damages and casualties, but he also added that his country is against sabotage and destruction caused by militant groups.

In the same context, Al-Sisi met with the Sultan of the Bohra sect in India, Mufaddal Saifuddin, along with an accompanying delegation. He highlighted the economic measures recently adopted to improve economic conditions and create a climate conducive to investments. Bohra sect members have expressed their interest to invest in Egypt, particularly in the fields of agricultural products and the paper and marble industries.

Sultan Saifuddin affirmed his support for the will of the Egyptian people, wishing Egypt success in implementing national economic projects, in particular the new Suez Canal project and development of the Suez Canal corridor. He also highlighted the sect’s efforts to restore Egypt’s historic mosques as well as its charitable activities.

A spokesman for the Presidency, Ambassador Ehab Badawi, reported that the Sultan made a LE10 million contribution to the Tahya Misr fund to support the Egyptian economy.

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