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Washington’s Limited Influence in Egypt

9:20 AM, Sep 15, 2011 • By DAVID SCHENKER
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Unsurprisingly these anti-U.S. sentiments also carry over to the U.S.-brokered Camp David peace agreement between Egypt and Israel, a deal that Amr Moussa says “is over.” Even the most “liberal” presidential hopeful, Mohamed ElBaradei says that Egypt should consider going to war with Israel to protect Palestinians in Gaza. 

Notwithstanding devoting more than 30 years and $60 billion to secure the peace and build a strong bilateral relationship, during this critical moment of transition, Washington today finds itself with precious little influence in Egypt. For now, U.S. access to Cairo West airbase, priority Suez Canal access for U.S. warships, and routine military over flights of Egyptian airspace are not at risk.  Despite the storming of the Israeli embassy in Cairo, neither is the Egypt-Israel peace treaty. If the current trajectory isn’t reversed and the next government in Cairo doesn’t start to value the bilateral relationship, however, these U.S. equities may soon be in jeopardy.   

For the foreseeable future, the U.S. is likely going to punch below its weight in Cairo. Given its diminished influence, Washington would be best advised to prioritize judiciously.

David Schenker is Aufizen fellow and director of the Program on Arab Politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He is, most recently, the author of Egypt’s Enduring Challenges: Shaping the Post Mubarak Environment.

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