News / Africa

Delay of Military Exercises Could Hint at US-Egypt Rift

Egyptian and American paratroopers jump from an C-17 US transport in Kom Oshim near Fayyum, 90 km southwest of Cairo during the Bright Star war games coalition exercise,  involving tactical air, ground, naval and special operations forces  (File photo  No
Egyptian and American paratroopers jump from an C-17 US transport in Kom Oshim near Fayyum, 90 km southwest of Cairo during the Bright Star war games coalition exercise, involving tactical air, ground, naval and special operations forces (File photo No

U.S. and Egyptian officials say the decision to postpone joint military exercises is due to the political transition underway in Egypt and should not be considered a sign of any rift.  The postponement comes at a time of apparent Egyptian unease about the United States and its motives.

Country transition

Egypt's military rulers do have their hands full.  Seven months after the revolution that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak and brought them temporarily to power, they appear to be struggling to keep the political process on track, while also fulfilling their traditional duties.

Political analyst Hisham Kassem says the two-year delay of the biennial Bright Star military exercises, the oldest in the region, makes sense. "The military now is bogged down with basically securing the country, and whether it's across the Delta, or Upper Egypt, or now with the situation in Sinai, I'm not surprised there's been a delay," Kassam stated.

But postponing the maneuvers comes amid other tensions between Washington and Cairo -- most recently, accusations that the U.S. is interfering with Egyptian politics by directly funding non-governmental groups.

"The whole way the matter was presented, like a declaration by the American ambassador that money has been given out directly, increased the sensitivity of the situation," Kassem explained.

The aid prompted criticism from Egypt's military rulers, who say such aid violates the nation's sovereignty, and they say they are launching an investigation.  A state-run magazine followed up with a cover branding the new U.S. envoy Anne Patterson the "ambassador from hell."

U.S. State Department officials have called such criticism unacceptable, and defended the aid funding, saying it was not political in nature.  They have also complained of what they see as anti-Americanism "creeping" into Egyptian public discourse.

Opinion polls and rumors

Recent opinion polls about Egyptian views toward the U.S. would seem to bear that out.  And it is at least partially evident on the streets of Cairo.  

Abdalal el-Erian works at a university in the capital. "Just recently, we have a lot of rumors and a lot of say in the street that there are funds coming to the informal sector in Egypt, civil societies, without being declared or known or anything and this is negative," he said.

For investment analyst Hana, who gave just her first name, some of the tension goes back to Washington's response during the uprising earlier this year.

"Sometimes they were very blunt in supporting the regime and sometimes they were very much opposing it and asking Mubarak to step down.  It was not really very clear and definite, but they were just going with the flow I think," said Hana.

But both Hana and el-Erian point to decades of political and military cooperation between the United States and Egypt, and say they are not overly worried.  The relationship has long been mutually beneficial, with the U.S. getting a strong ally in the region, and Egypt receiving more than a billion dollars in American military aid each year.

Others suggest the problems are less a reflection of tensions between Washington and Cairo, than between Egypt's military rulers and anti-government protesters.  Raising the specter of a foreign, in this case American, hand in any opposition movement has a long history in Egypt.

But political analyst Kassem says the United States should be careful about creating bogeymen of its own. He objects to recent comments by U.S. legislators about the possibility of an Islamist takeover in Egypt. "As a secular person, I'd like to tell Congress, stop this scare you're creating about the Muslim Brotherhood taking over.  It's very damaging for the economy," he said. "And for people like me, its unfounded on the ground."

More to the point, Kassem says, it's not any of the United States' business.  The Muslim Brotherhood is Egyptian, it has the right to contest the elections and, he says, it's up to the Egyptian people to decide who they want in office.  

With a series of elections in the coming months, Egyptian sensitivities on the issue are likely to increase.


You May Like

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Lawi
X
William Ide
October 20, 2014 10:23 AM
China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Nigeria Agrees to Cease-Fire With Boko Haram

Islamist militant group Boko Haram and the Nigerian government have agreed to a cease-fire. The Nigerian government issued an order Friday, telling all military chiefs "to comply with the cease-fire agreement in all theaters of operations. Why now and the significance of the agreement are questions on some people’s minds. VOA's Mariama Diallo reports.
Video

Video Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

The offensive by Islamic State militants against the northern Syrian city of Kobani has caused hundreds of thousands of residents to flee to Turkey. They receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from the town of Suruc a few kilometers from the border.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.

All About America

AppleAndroid