The Role of FTA Negotiations in the Future of U.S.-Egypt Relations
December 13, 2011
Egypt, a long-time ally with profound influence on U.S. security, is facing the daunting prospect of making the transition from decades of authoritarianism to democracy. The outcome of the complicated deliberations on the new government’s makeup, quality, and policy orientation can be expected to consume the next several years, posing high risks, challenges, and opportunities for both Americans and Egyptians. Understandably, the natural tendency for the Obama administration and Congress in the face of such uncertainty is to retreat to the safety of a circumspect, more hesitant policy toward Egypt, as the United States watches and waits for all elections to conclude and for the political stripes of the new leaders to become known.
A different path, discussed here, is to demonstrate support for Egyptians during this watershed transition. In the 1970s, when Egypt made a pivot away from the Soviet bloc and then another pivot toward peace with its neighbors, the United States showed its commitment with hundreds of millions of dollars in annual economic assistance to compliment more than a billion dollars in annual military aid. In this new era, the U.S. budget environment is dramatically more constrained. Yet the importance of influencing Egypt’s transition to follow a positive course is no less important than it was four decades ago.