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Egypt’s New Regime and the Future of the U.S.-Egyptian Strategic Relationship

Egypt’s New Regime and the Future of the U.S.-Egyptian Strategic Relationship published on

Authored by U.S. Army War College

This book, completed in August 2012, analyzes the developments in Egypt from January 2011 to August 2012 and addresses the following questions that are pertinent to U.S. policymakers: How does the United States maintain good relations and preserve its strategic partnership with Egypt under Cairo’s new political leadership and the changing political environment in the country? How does it do so while adhering to American values such as supporting democracy even when those coming to power do not share U.S. strategic goals?

The book first examines Egypt’s strategic importance for the United States by exploring Egypt’s role in the Arab-Israeli peace process, its geographical role (providing air and naval access) for U.S. military assets heading to the Persian Gulf, and joint training programs. With so much at stake in the Middle East, “losing” Egypt as a strategic ally would be a significant setback for the United States.

The Egyptian revolution of early 2011 was welcomed by U.S. officials because the protestors wanted democratic government, which conformed to U.S. ideals, and the institution that would shepherd the transition, the Egyptian military, had close ties to the United States. However, the transition was marked by many difficulties, including violence by military authorities against protestors, a crackdown on American nongovernment organizations (NGOs), and the military’s reluctance to cede real power to civilian authorities. Nonetheless, U.S. officials continued to court the military because they believed it had equities they needed to protect, and they developed relations with the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization that was critical of many U.S. foreign policy goals, because the Brotherhood had emerged as the strongest political organization in the country. In the process, many Egyptian liberals felt slighted by this “two-stop shopping” by high-ranking U.S. officials.

The first round of Egypt’s presidential elections divided the polity, and the top two vote-getters were a former Mubarak prime minister and a Brotherhood official, both of whom alarmed many Egyptians. When it appeared that the Brotherhood candidate, Mohammed Morsi, won the election in the second round, the Egyptian military hesitated to announce the winner, prompting criticism from the United States. The military relented, but not before issuing declarations that gave itself vast powers and restricted the president’s powers. Less than 2 months later, Morsi felt confident enough to change the military’s leadership, and claimed vast powers for himself. Morsi appears to have won this power play, but many in Egypt fear that he could become an authoritarian figure and use the Brotherhood organization to monopolize power. The book argues that an ideal outcome for Egypt, and one that would preserve the U.S. Egyptian strategic relationship, would be for Morsi not to interfere in the drafting of the new Constitution, nor in the parliamentary elections, and allow all political factions to compete fairly. A political system with parliament not dominated by the Brotherhood, with checks and balances put in place, plus the military retaining its autonomy, would help to foster emocracy in Egypt and maintain the U.S.-Egyptian strategic relationship, even though public opinion might make Egypt less likely to cooperate with some U.S. initiatives.

The book then examines scenarios where Morsi acts in an authoritarian manner, pursues a narrow Islamist agenda, and moves to purge the military of elements not supportive of the Brotherhood. In such scenarios, the U.S.-Egyptian strategic relationship would suffer not only because anti-U.S. elements would come to dominate Egypt but because the U.S. Congress would likely reduce or cut off U.S. assistance in reaction to such moves.

Publication Date:
Oct 13 2014
1502819678 / 9781502819673
Page Count:
Binding Type:
US Trade Paper
Trim Size:
7″ x 10″
Black and White
Related Categories:
Political Science / World / Middle Eastern


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