News / Middle East

Analysts: Obama in Bind Over Sissi Election

FILE - Egypt’s former military chief Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.
FILE - Egypt’s former military chief Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.
Mohamed Elshinnawi
The sweeping victory of former Egyptian army chief Abdel Fattah el-Sissi in the presidential election is part of a continuing diplomatic dilemma for the Obama administration and its Egypt policies, analysts say.
 
Sissi received more than 90 percent of the vote amid allegations of foul play and little independent monitoring of the low voter turnout last week. A crackdown on opposition forces notwithstanding, little dissent was voiced throughout Egypt.
 
Sissi’s election comes after the military ouster last year of Egypt's first democratically-elected civilian president Mohamed Morsi, who is in detention.
 
In his foreign policy address at West Point this week, U.S President Barack Obama walked a fine diplomatic line, analysts say.
 
“In Egypt, we acknowledge that our relationship is anchored in security interests – from the peace treaty with Israel, to shared efforts against violent extremism,” he said.
 
Despite an outcry from international human rights groups against the Egyptian military leadership, Presidents Obama said that the U.S. has not cut off cooperation with the new Egyptian government.
 
He said that his administration can and will persistently press for the reforms that the Egyptian people have demanded.

Amy Hawthorne, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East said the U.S. is caught between promoting American ideals and maintaining its national interests.

“The U.S. message is confused because it is pursuing a lot of different priorities in Egypt; it has been trying to say that the defense and security relationship is very important, but on the other hand the U.S. is very concerned about violence and political repression.” Hawthorne said.

If Washington moved forward with a large portion of U.S. military aid that was previously suspended, Hawthorne said the U.S. would give the impression that political violence and ongoing repression in Egypt were no longer as important to the U.S.

But Paul Salem, a policy analyst at the Middle East Institute in Washington, said that President Obama was clear about U.S. strategic priorities in the Middle East.

“One: combatting terrorism, two: Israel as a super ally, three: free flow of oil from the (Persian) Gulf and last: preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons,” he said.

Analysts say Sissi wants to ensure that the $1.5 billion in annual aid from the U.S. continues to arrive. Most of that aid goes to supporting the military.

His campaign remarks reflected a conciliatory tone to the U.S., stressing the importance of continued strategic relations between Washington and Cairo.

But analyst Hawthorne said he expects a lot of tensions between Egypt and the U.S. under Sissi’s leadership.

“Sissi indicated that he wants the relationship to be on his terms, which basically means that the U.S. should accept his narrative of Egypt’s political trajectory and his approach to governance,” she said. “I do not think the U.S. is ready to do that.”

Tamara Wittes, director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, said that U.S.- Egyptian relations are at a moment of reflection.

“Both sides know closer relations are important, but the problem is that neither wants to engage with the other from a position of weakness,” she said. 

But former Egyptian presidential candidate and former Egyptian foreign minister Amr Moussa called for a new paradigm for U.S.–Egyptian relations.

“We should embark on an immediate consideration of what kind of relationship both sides wish to have as the U.S. can no longer tell the Egyptian president what she wants and expects he would simply oblige,” he said.

Moussa, who joined Sissi’s presidential campaign called on the U.S. to stop linking aid to Egypt with political developments in Cairo to avoid any further souring in bilateral relations.

Conspiracy theories prevalent in Egypt’s media have created another problem for the future of U.S.–Egyptian relations.  Egypt’s media has accused the U.S. conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood to undermine Egyptian sovereignty in the Sinai for example.

“This is a real problem because such planted stories are being shared by the state media and government sources. The U.S. should speak out and directly contradict these reports; otherwise it gives the impression that they might be correct.” Michele Dunne, a senior associate in the Middle East program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said.

Dunne says because the U.S. has invested tens of billions of dollars in economic and military assistance to Egypt over almost 40 years it does not want to walk away from a country that has a very important geostrategic location.

“The U.S. fears that Egypt is entering a period of ongoing and perhaps escalating instability which is not good for a security partner in the region,” said Dunne. She says American policy toward Egypt since the 2011 revolution has been indecisive at times, but it has been driven by one constant imperative; get along with whoever is in power in order to continue security cooperation.

Her recommendation: The U.S. should focus on supporting the Egyptian people and refrain from confining its support to the Egyptian government or the military.

“I think the U.S. should make the investment with the Egyptian people in education and other fields that can help them having better lives over the long run,” Dunne said.

You May Like

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Video US Landmark Pushes Endangered Species

People gathered in streets, on rooftops in Manhattan to see image highlights that covered 33 floors of Empire State Building More

World’s Widest Suspension Bridge Being Built Over Bosphorus

Once built, Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge will span 2 kilometers with about 1.5 kilometers over water, and will be longest suspension bridge in world carrying rail system More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Tarek Fawzi from: Egypt
June 04, 2014 4:30 AM
This confusing message does not help also double standards adds insult to injury. THE USA position to kharazie forged elections support to Libya and unclear position on thailand projects double standards and lack of conviction in what the administration keep claiming to be USA values.
The clear incriminating marriage between the US administration and Muslim brotherhood is very clear to all supported by statements from USA officials in the Pentagon. To ask Sissi to deal with all of this to win acceptance of the administration position is fiction.The case against Mrs will result in additional facts which will make such repair impossible once an ouch which is expected very shortly to be unveiled. Obama needs to sort his issues fast as it was all his creation.

by: Curatica from: USA
June 02, 2014 8:02 AM
America has supported military coups and dictatorships in Egypt and elsewhere for decades. The external policy of this country is based on cynical interests. This is a disgrace.

by: Ali Papa from: USA
June 01, 2014 1:43 AM
“I think the U.S. should make the investment with the Egyptian people in education and other fields that can help them having better lives over the long run,” Dunne said.

by: Anonymous
May 31, 2014 3:47 PM
European union, African union and numerous other foreign agencies monitored the election. THIS WAS THE FIRST EGYPTIAN ELECTION WITH FOREIGN MONITORING.

by: meanbill from: USA
May 31, 2014 12:10 PM
The US interference in the politics of Egypt, greatly contributed to the Mubarak uprising that toppled the Egyptian government, (an to the chaos, violence, deaths, destruction and threat of a civil war), until the Egyptian military staged a coup, and directly told the US to shut up, and stay the hell away.

NOW the chaos, violence, deaths, and destruction will continue, but who knows after the US, EU, and NATO countries interference, if they'll have a civil war? -- NOBODY knows what'll happen next.... ?

by: Andrew from: Jackson
May 31, 2014 10:56 AM
Egyptians did not rise up against a dictator and suffered for all these years to get another one from the same junta who has terrorized and oppressed them for 60 years. And they did not!

US should treat the junta as it would treat any other unrepresentative, terrorist organization, who has taken over a nation at the force of gun. Just because they wear uniforms and have lots of US supplied weapons, it does not make their acts anything other than terrorism and repression.

Read the evidence....

The Bubble Has Burst in Egypt
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-hearst/no-show-in-egypt_b_5413515.html

"For three days, the Egyptian state pleaded with, demanded, threatened, cajoled, bribed voters to turn up at the polls. Egyptians were warned it was nothing less than a national duty to vote and they could be fined 500 Egyptian pounds for not doing so. They were told that Egypt would become Libya or Syria if they did not vote. The second day of voting was made a national holiday, and travel was made free to encourage voters to return to their constituencies. The TV anchors panicked and became hysterical. Voting was extended into a third day.
Still they did not show up. An AFP crew touring Cairo's polling stations found deserted halls. CNN reported likewise. Photos appeared on Twitter showing election officials asleep at their desks.
...

Hamdeen Sabahi, the only challenger in the race, said the claimed turnout figures (claimed by the police state) were an insult to the intelligence of the Egyptian people...

Estimates of the actual turnout ranged from figures as low as 10 percent, which would be 5.5 million votes, to 15 percent. The Arab Observatory for Rights and Freedoms put the turnout at 11.92 percent which equates to 6.425.989 voters. It reported numerous election violations and fraud...."
In Response

by: Egyptian from: USA\Egypt
May 31, 2014 4:06 PM
Do you believe everything thing you read, how many Egyptians do you know? This was the first Egyptian election with foreign monitoring, the numbers are real. CNN is full of lies about other countries. European union, African union and numerous other foreign monitoring groups supervised the election and published reports about it. Why people always try to delegitimize Egyptian majority by publishing lies is beyond me. President Sisi :) History in the making, Morsi got his chance and tried to monopolize power while he destabilized the economy more and released terrorist from jail, Morsi gave himself more power than any previous president in Egyptian history. Now its time for Sisi to get his chance, to see what he does as president and how effective he can be in helping Egypt. Egyptians have proven that we will not stand by while someone tries to take our country from us. We have term limits now. President Sisi :)

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs