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U.S. Security Interests in Egypt Slipping Away

From the elimination of SCAF, to the denial of US requests to stop Iranian ships, U.S. influence in Egypt is waning.
Mohammed Morsi announcing himself Egypt's president after the second round of Egypt's presidential elections, June 18, 2012.

Mohammed Morsi announcing himself Egypt's president after the second round of Egypt's presidential elections, June 18, 2012.
Photo Credit: Jonathan Rashad

While we are propping up dictatorships of limited utility and limited viability, the United States should be VERY CAREFUL not to do anything with long-term dangerous ramifications for itself or its allies, specifically in this case Israel. Selling Egypt high-tech military equipment and overlooking Egypt’s relationship with A-E (Axis of Evil) member North Korea could result in that equipment falling into the hands of a future Egyptian government even less friendly to the U.S. and Israel than the current one. Harpoon Block II missiles could threaten U.S. carriers in the Med or Red Sea, MLRS could be used against Israel if Egypt crosses the Suez Canal (particularly if the U.S. withdraws the multinational forces in the Sinai), and the artillery rockets won’t be used against Saddam, but more likely against Israel.

So in 2012, Egypt has indeed crossed forces into the Sinai, ostensibly to root out “jihadis” who threaten both Egypt and Israel. The immediate U.S. response was to offer the Egyptian military additional support in that role, suggesting that the MFO could slip out of its traditional posture as “observer” of the terms of the Israel-Egypt peace treaty into alliance with Egypt against the new threat. Egypt overstepped Israeli goodwill, however, by sending tanks and anti-aircraft guns – neither very useful in jihadi-hunting – and with the Israeli protest, Egypt changed course. Ha’aretz reports the Egyptian government is using Salafists and “former jihadists” to “negotiate” a new level of quiet in the Sinai with the current jihadists that will protect Egyptian interests, meaning local Sinai tribesmen will not attack the Egyptian military. Protecting Israeli interests? Not so important.

President Morsi’s visit to Iran (and then to China) highlights his desire not to appear aligned with the U.S. or U.S. interests. He’s not necessarily aligning with Iranian, Shi’ite, apocalyptic interests either, but he is continuing the evolution toward an Egyptian definition of Egyptian interests that began with the decline of Hosni Mubarak and that promises to hasten the decline of American influence.

Originally published by the Gatestone Institute.

About the Author: Shoshana Bryen is Senior Director of The Jewish Policy Center. She was previously Senior Director of JINSA and author of JINSA Reports form 1995-2011.

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