News / Middle East

Heightened US-Egypt Tensions Raise Concern

Egypt's refusal to allow several American citizens to leave the country has heightened tensions between the traditional allies and has some people wondering if it heralds a more fraught, post-revolution relationship. But others in Egypt believe it may be little more than the military leaders posturing for a domestic audience.

Several Americans took refuge in the U.S. Embassy in Cairo after being barred from leaving Egypt, raising the stakes in a confrontation concerning U.S.-backed democracy organizations and prompting questions about the future of $1.3 billion in U.S. aid.

It is an unusual diplomatic step, indicating the Americans felt they were in danger, while Egyptian media speculated that those at the embassy were trying to evade possible prosecution.

Egyptian authorities raided several foreign-backed pro-democracy groups in December, accusing them of working illegally and interfering with domestic affairs. The U.S. complained and Egypt promised to relent. But last week the local director of one such group, Sam Lahood of the International Republican Institute - the son of a U.S. Cabinet member - was among several Americans turned back at the airport.

Egypt's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, or SCAF, has been heavily criticized for its continued crackdown on pro-democracy activists, with thousands of its domestic critics being sent before military tribunals and jailed in harsh conditions.

But American University in Cairo political sociologist, Said Sadek, thinks the case of those at the embassy is not so dire.

"The matter is being dramatized, but I don't think there is any danger. We have not seen anything bad happening to Americans or foreigners in Egypt when they are in government custody. You had, a few months ago, some American students arrested and accused that they were a part of a demonstration and all that happened is that they left the country. There was no torture. There was no violence against them. There was nothing," said Sadek.

A White House spokesman said Monday that the United States is not aware of any danger. But it is exactly Egypt's continuation of a crackdown on domestic critics, including allegations of abuse in custody, that has put Washington in a bind.

The Obama administration, late in supporting the uprising last year, has since reached out to Egypt's new players, including the SCAF and ascendant Islamist groups, as it tries to remain relevant to the country's new political reality.  

That includes renewing America's annual $1.3 billion in aid to Egypt. Some U.S. lawmakers have already called for the amount to be slashed because of the raids.  The latest developments threaten to make matters worse.

AUC's Sadek thinks otherwise.

"Remember, the United States needs the military whom they invested in for many decades," he said. "They also have open relationships with the political powers in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood, and they know that those two powers are very important in this relationship. I don't think this is going to be affected by the arrest of, detention or prevention of three Americans from leaving the country for a short period of time until the matter is cleared by the prosecutor."

Sadek argues that Egyptian officials are also keen on keeping relations intact as they struggle with the immediate problems of rebuilding the nation post-revolution.  A delegation of Egyptian officials is in the United States this week in an apparent bid to smooth things over.

The AUC professor says the move against U.S.-backed democracy groups is aimed more at a local audience.

"It can be used for domestic situation to show that Egypt is still strong and say 'no' to the United States, especially after the criticism that some Americans raised against the behavior of the SCAF, human rights organizations condemning the transitional period and the mismanagement from the military," said Sadek.

Sadek adds that the actions can be considered "just a game."

You May Like

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

Physically and culturally close to Western Europe, Lviv feels solidarity with compatriots in country’s east but says they need to decide own future More

West African Women Disproportionately Affected by Ebola

Women's roles in families and the community put them at greater risk for contracting the disease, officials say More

Video NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Arrives at Mars

Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution craft will measure rates at which gases escape Martian atmosphere into space 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.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid