Visit to ECFA by the U.S. Embassy head of the Political Section and the head of the Section’s Foreign Affairs Unit
On June 23, 2022, and at their request, Mr. Nathaniel Turner, Deputy Minister Counsellor for Political Affairs, and Mr. Julian Hadas, Head of the Foreign Affairs Unit of the Political Section of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, visited ECFA, where they were received by Ambassadors Ezzat Saad and Hisham Al-Zimaity, ECFA Director and Secretary-General, respectively. In the framework of the two guests’ desire to get acquainted with our vision of developments in the region, especially since President Biden will visit it in mid-July 2022, the two ECFA members indicated that the observer of the developments of the United States’ relations with the region must reach the conclusion that the U.S. interest in the region is in a continuous decline, as it is focusing on China, and on supporting Ukraine in its war with Russia since February 2022. And that regardless of the ongoing normalization processes between Israel and other countries in the region, which must be taking place with American blessing and support, the Arab public opinion notes the stark contrast between the continuous Western military support to Kiev, and what is happening in the occupied Palestinian territories of non-stop settlement and racist practices, without any significant reaction from the United States and its allies.
The two ECFA members also stressed the need for the United States to implement the bare minimum of the promises that President Biden made during the electoral campaign, including the reopening of the U.S. consulate in occupied Jerusalem, the PLO Office in Washington, and the launch of a serious political process that leads to a settlement of the conflict. In response to the inquiry by the head of the Foreign Affairs Unit regarding the ECFA’s opinion on attempts to integrate Israel into the region, through the Negev Forum that was held in March 2022, during which a framework for regional cooperation was approved, as well as the summit to be held on June 27, 2022, the two ECFA members indicated that it was wrong believing that this means the decline of the Palestinian cause, and that it can be ignored; since this involves a great miscalculation of the reality of the situation in the region in general, and in the occupied Palestinian territories in particular, as the situation is likely to explode at any time.
Accordingly, the two guests put forward the idea of establishing an Arab alliance against Iran, which also includes Israel (which is being circulated in the media as an “Arab NATO”). The two ECFA members explained that, in practice, there is nothing to support or lend any credibility to this idea, for a number of reasons, most notably: that the Gulf states are engaged in dialogue, economic relations, and large trade exchanges with Iran, not to mention that some of them maintain good historical relations with Tehran, and none of these states will join any alliance that aims to enmity a neighboring country like Iran. Also, the main problem in the region does not lie in Iran, but in Israel, whose leaders have become convinced that it has achieved strategic breakthroughs from the normalization processes, and that the Palestinian cause is no longer on the Arab agenda.
On the other hand, and in response to the two guests’ inquiries regarding the chances of Syria’s participation in the upcoming Arab summit in Algeria, ECFA answered that there is no clear information in this regard, and that the issue of its participation may still be subject to consultations, and that in any case, President al-Assad must reach consensual solutions with the opposition, and stop acting as the victor in the protracted war in Syria. In response to a question about the U.S. position regarding the developments of the Renaissance Dam issue, and the intransigence of the Ethiopian position which rejects any binding agreement in this regard, Mr. Julian Hadas stated that the Dam file is a political issue, and that it is clear that there is no political will yet to solve it, adding that they have appointed a U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa (Mike Hammer) and that he will visit Egypt soon.