The Middle East and the future of Egypt-U.S. relations
On November 10, 2020, ECFA hosted a symposium on “the results of the recent U.S. presidential elections on the new Administration’s policy vis-à-vis the Middle East and the future of Egypt-U.S. relations,” with the participation of a number of experts, academics and former ambassadors who are ECFA members. The symposium tackled four axes: the new Administration’s policy vis-à-vis the Middle East, the challenges that will face the new Administration in the Middle East, the new Administration and the future of Egypt-U.S. relations, the actuality and future of Egypt-U.S. economic relations.
The symposium was concluded as following:
1- It is likely that the priority of the new U.S. Administration, led by President-elect Joe Biden, will focus primarily on domestic issues, such as improving the health and economic conditions that are currently ravaging the country, as well as working to unify the American nation and eliminate the polarization that the recent elections showed.
2- On the other hand, the foreign policy of the new U.S. Administration will pay special interest to attempting to correct what Trump has spoiled by withdrawing from some international organizations and moving away from the United States’ traditional allies.
3- With regard to the foreign policy of the new Administration vis-à-vis the Middle East, most of the participants agreed that there is a relative decline in the importance of the Middle East for decision-makers in the United States, and it is expected that the importance of the region and its conflicts with the will continue to decline for the new Administration, especially since the United States has been able to secure its oil needs through the exploitation of shale oil, and even export. In addition, the cost of the military operations America was carrying out in the region exceeds the value of its benefits from them, besides the failure of all U.S. attempts to build a regional security system that includes all the countries of the region.
4- As for the Arab-Israeli conflict, given the absence of a reference to the peace process in Biden’s speech, it is expected that there will be some kind of freezing of the cause, and the preservation of the gains Israel realized thanks to the Trump Administration. As for Iran, the speakers linked the issue of the continuation of the hard-line U.S. approach towards Iran or the occurrence of a breakthrough in this file with Iran’s announcement of its return to strict commitment to the terms of the nuclear agreement.
5- Concerning Egypt-US relations, the participants expressed “conditional optimism” on the basis of the challenges and opportunities that these relations also entail. Nevertheless, one must wait to find out what the new administration requests from Egypt, and it was pointed out that restoring the vitality of Egypt-U.S. relations depends on an active Egyptian role in some areas of top priority at present, including: working to create a business climate in Egypt conducive to attracting American investments, making use of the U.S.-China competition atmosphere all over the world, in all areas, and the importance of moving forward in improving programs of health, education, scientific research, scientific and technological progress and the environment for doing business, in order to develop the Egyptian state, in a manner that enhances the chances of restoring the leading Egyptian stature in the region, keenness on changing the image of the human rights’ file in Egypt.