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Egypt and the United States, a regional and a global power, respectively, were intrinsically engaged in the pursuit of their national interests. Nevertheless, Egypt’s sense of heritage and American exceptionalism were often the sources of tensions and discomforts preceding both failures and successes, especially starting in the Clinton years. Later a baptism of fire, 9/11, democracy promotion and succession and revolutions provided food for thought on Egyptian-American relations.
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This never came into fruition, however, because of a lack of focus on the Egyptian side, which was suffering from a shortages of foreign currency liquidity while having it had no immediate pressing need for the reactor, all of which led the Americans to have second thoughts about introducing this technology into Egypt, which was not yet at peace with Israel and had not in the late seventies become a member of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
This was to the extent that a popular song by the Egyptian singer Shaaban Abdel Rahim titled “I Hate Israel” had the following lyrics: “I hate Israel, Shimon, and Sharon, and I love Amre Moussa and his judicious, wise statements.”
Salafism is an ultra-orthodox political Islam trend that has its intellectual roots in Wahhabism, and it has been gaining ground in Egypt since the late 1980s.
Although the Mubarak regime allowed members of the Muslim Brotherhood to successfully run for parliament and gain over 100 of the 450 seats, the Brotherhood parliamentarians were systematically described in the media as representing “members of the outlawed organization” in perhaps a clear testimony to the cacophony of irrational contradicting policies adopted by the Egyptian government earlier this century. Then in yet another interesting but strange tactic, the government attempted to counterbalance the Muslim Brotherhood by promoting the Salafis, an even more religiously rigid but politically weaker faction of political Islam that was popular among the blue-collar sectors of Egyptian society.
Indeed, Wisner’s message was later the subject of contradicting reports that suggested differences between Wisner’s opinion and that of the administration.
The Egyptian media very widely reported that the United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had made specific reference to an American administration policy of constructive chaos in a speech she gave while in Egypt speaking at the American University in Cairo Ewart Hall in 2005 where she talked about the “the birth pangs” of a new Middle East. On her return to Washington, she Rice personally expressed her surprise at this, denying that the American administration had any such policy.
Some analysts, especially in the Middle East, argue that the Western world and, particularly, the United States were conspirators in the 2011 events, often referring to youth being trained in Serbia or following the writings of Gene Sharp on civilian disobedience. Moreover, the American Embassy in Cairo’s direct monetary support to the NGO community without coordination with the Egyptian government, contrary to past practices, and the work of American foundations like the International Republic Institute and the National Democratic Institute—both of which had been implicitly allowed by the Egyptian government to work in Cairo without being officially licensed and had thus exploited such measures—provided further impetus to such conspiracies.
- An Indispensable but Uncomfortable Relationship
- Chapter 7
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