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Al-Ahram daily in Arabic, Egypt

Obama and Us

By Dr. Abdel Mon’im Sa’id

Translated By Ahmad Abdel-Rahman

14 November 2012

Edited by Lau­rence Bouvard

Egypt - Al-Ahram daily in Arabic - Original Article (Arabic)

Once an American president or an Israeli prime minister is elected, wisdom prevails and everyone considers there to be no difference between the elected party and the loser. The reason, it is said, is because these countries are run by institutions and the role of the individual is small; or that the two candidates are the same because we have made up our minds about them based on our negative view of history.

The truth is that I do not have a problem with these opinions; I see no harm in repeating them as long as the elections are held as a kind of national sport that does not change anything. However, this will not spare us the responsibility of looking for different shades of individual policies amid this forest of institutions until we find opportunities and avoid risks.

More importantly, there are variations that are imposed on us and on the White House resident; some of these variations are attributed to us, or so we Egyptians say. For those who do not know, there is a long list of Egyptian-American relations which we should look into and seek if we want to deepen these bilateral relations, cancel them, enhance some of their aspects and erase others.

In short, Obama’s return to the White House for a new and final term requires a review of the issues and topics of mutual interest to Egypt and the United States. So, let’s start for once with those issues that belong to Egypt. For example, the United States is Egypt’s top trading partner among the countries of the world (sometimes it is indicated that the top partner is the European Union, but this represents 27 countries). So, what are we doing? Do we still want a free trade zone with the United States, as we had sought before, or do we have a different opinion? And if we want it, how can we do that? On the other hand, the United States is one of the major countries investing in Egypt, but most of its investments are concentrated in the field of petroleum. Hence, do we want more U.S. investments, and if so, can we attract such investments to new and different areas?

U.S-Egyptian strategic relations are profound and deeply-rooted since they are based on a security agreement signed between the two countries in 1981. This agreement has resulted in the conduct of bright star military maneuvers every two years, and gave the United States the rights to air traffic in times of crisis, as well as the rights to use Egyptian ports and airports, with the permission of Egypt, of course. In addition, these strategic relations are also based on the fact that Egypt is a non-member ally of NATO, alongside a number of Mediterranean countries. Accordingly, the question is: Do we want to deepen and develop these relations, or do we want to curtail, cancel or keep everything as it is?



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